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Heurg W. Sage 

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Ethi in»iiii?iiiiiiii l iill , i?i?if i l S,?!!!P n of the 'acts an 


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NO. 23233 

Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 










translates from tbe Second ©erman Edition (1892) 









Vol. III. 







Departments of the Moral Life 




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... -v<j>,j P*pt 




I. Introduction; and the Facts of the Moral Life. 


II. Ethical Systems. 


III. The Principles of Morality; and the Depart- 

ments of the Moral Life. 


AS in the two preceding volumes of the English translation 
-^ *■ of Professor Wundt's Ethik, the references have been 
given in. English, so far as possible, and the editions brought 
up to date. 

Throughout the section on Legal Norms (pp. 160-192) 
much of the significance of the discussion rests on the fact 
that the German word Recht means both 'law' and 'right' 
The difficulty thus presented to the English reader has been 
somewhat lessened, it is hoped, by translating the phrase 
subjektives Recht 'subjective law, or right,' and objektives 
Recht 'objective right, or law.' 

The translator wishes, as before, to acknowledge her 
indebtedness to Professor E. B. Titchener for a number of 
suggestions and for a revision of the proofs. 



Part III. 
TIbe principles of flfooralits 

The Moral Will. 

i. Will and Consciousness — 

(a) The Fact of Consciousness 

(b) The Conception of Will . 5 

(c) The Motives and Causes of Will . ... 9 

(d) The Development of Will : Heterogenetic and Autogenetic 

Theories . . ... 12 

(e) The Forms of Voluntary Activity . 14 

2. The Individual Will and the Social Will — 

(a) The Ego and Personality . . 20 

(b) The Relation of the Individual to the Whole . 22 

(c) Individualism and Universalism . . . . 24 

(d) Ethical Atomism and the Pyschological Theory of Sub- 

stance . . . ... 29 

(e) The Individual Will and the Social Will in the Light of 

the Theory of Actuality . . 32 

3. The Freedom of the Will — 

(a) General Characteristics of Freedom 37 

(b) The Causality of Will ... 39 

(c) Indeterminism and Determinism 41 

(d) Psychical and Mechanical Causality 44 

(e) The Causality of Character . 55 


Conscience— PAGE 

(a) The Various Conceptions of Conscience 59 

(i) The Origin of Imperative Motives • 6 4 

(c) The Imperatives of Constraint . °7 

(d) The Imperatives of Freedom °° 

(e) The Religious Form of Moral Imperatives 72 


Moral Ends. 

The Principal Forms of Moral Ends 75 

Individual Ends . -77 

Social Ends . . 79 

The Ends of Humanity 8 4 

Immoral Ends . • 9 1 


Moral Motives. 

i. The Principal Form of Moral Motives 94 

2. Motives of Perception . 95 

3. Motives of the Understanding . 99 

4. Motives of Reason . .104 

5. Immoral Motives — 

(a) The General Conditions of Immoral Volition 108 

(i) Individual Forms of Immorality . . 112 

(c) The connection of Immoral Motives 116 

(d) Theories of Punishment . . 118 

(e) The Essential Nature of Punishment 123 

The Moral Norms. 

1. The General Significance and Classification of Moral Norms — 

(a) Fundamental and Derivative Norms . . 130 

(b) Positive and Negative Norms . . 132 

(c) The Conflict of Norms . ... 137 

(d) The Relation of Moral Norms to the Concepts of Duty 

and Virtue . . . ... 143 

(«) The General Classification of Moral Norms . .150 

Contents xi 


2. Individual Norms 152 

3. Social Norms 154 

4. Humanitarian Norms 156 

5. Legal Norms — 

(a) The Natural Law Theory and the Historical Theory of Law 160 

(6) The Protective Theory and the Theory of Constraint 167 

(c) Subjective Law, or Right 172 

{d) Objective Right, or Law . 175 

(e) General Definition of Law 176 

(/) Justice . 179 

{g) Fundamental and Auxiliary Legal Norms 182 

(k) Fundamental Norms of Law . 187 

6. The Norms and the Departments of Moral Life 192 

Part IV. 
tEbe departments ot tbe flfooral Xife 


The Individual Personality. 





Occupation . 


. 201 


Civic Position 



Intellectual Cultivation 





The Family . 



Social Classes 






The Community 

• 255 

The State. 

1. The State as a Financial and Economic Community . 258 

2. The State as a Legal Community . . . 261 

3. The State as a Social Unit . . ... 269 

4. The State as an Association for the Advancement of Culture . 272 

xii Contents 


Humanity. paoe 

i. The Economic Intercourse of Nations 2 °° 

2. The Law of Nations . . 2 88 

3. The Association of Civilised States . 2 95 

4. The Common Intellectual Life of Humanity 298 


Index of Names and Subjects . 305 

Part III. 






(a) The Fact of Consciousness. 

ALONG course of physiological experiment and logical 
reflection has gradually made us aware that our 
conception of the external world is influenced in many 
and various ways by the nature of our sense organs, 
the structure of our nervous system, and, finally, by the 
peculiarities of our modes of representation and thought. 
But that our perception of the inner world is influenced in 
the opposite way, that our tendency is ever to transfer into 
the system of inner experiences the images produced in us 
by the course of events in external nature — this is a fact 
which, as a rule, we tend to overlook. Yet it is well adapted 
to have a disturbing effect on the accuracy with which we 
observe our inner life, not only because it makes us confuse 
our own conceptions with their objects, but because these 
conceptions themselves become intermingled with foreign 

Since in the case of external objects the conditions under 
which we know the outer world have led us to abstract from 
the feelings that accompany the representation of those 
objects, we think we can do the same thing when we are 
considering these representations as purely subjective states 
in our own minds. Further, since we combine with the 

4 The Moral Will [434 

external object of a representation the notion of a per- 
manently persisting thing, we are led to transfer this notion 
also to the representation as it exists in us ; to think of it 
as appearing and disappearing, like external things, inde- 
pendently of ourselves. Finally, these supposed changes 
on the part of objects need a stage on which to take place ; 
and so we create the notion of an internal space, which we 
call consciousness, analogous to the external space in which 
the drama of external nature is played. Feelings, desires, 
and volitions do not, of course, have external objects 
corresponding to them, as representations do. Hence in 
their case, we give up the attempt to regard each individual 
process as an independent thing. Instead, each class of these 
inner states is made an independent existence, influenced 
in its behaviour by representations, and occasionally exerting 
influence upon them in its turn. 

All these fictions vanish if, instead of dealing with 
abstractions derived from the objects of external perception, 
we reverse the procedure and leave the relation of inner 
perceptions to external things wholly out of account at 
the outset. Representations will then be not objects but 
processes, phenomena belonging to a ceaseless inner stream 
of events. Feelings, desires and volitions will be parts of 
this stream, inseparable in actuality from representations, 
and, like them, the expressions of no independent existences 
or forces ; rather possessing reality only as individual feelings, 
desires or volitions. Nay, the distinctions between these 
processes themselves are ill-defined; we call a certain 
stirring of our inward nature Feeling, when the active element 
that characterises our conception of will remains in the 
background; we call it Desire, when this active element 
becomes noticeable, but exerts as yet no direct power to 
change the course of inner events ; we speak of a Volition 
when to our inner state there is added the perception of self- 

435] Will and Consciousness 5 

activity, and the influence which this exercises in changing 
either our internal processes or such of our mental states 
as have outward reference. Finally, from this point of view 
consciousness is an abstraction, without even the shadow 
of independent reality. When we abstract from the 
particular processes of our inner experience, which are its 
only real elements, and reflect upon the bare fact that we 
do perceive activities and processes in ourselves, we call 
this abstraction Consciousness. The term thus expresses 
merely the fact that we have an inner life ; it no more 
represents anything different from the individual processes ' 
of this life than physical life is a special force over and 
above the sum of physiological processes. As a matter 
of fact, the hypostatised notion of consciousness stands on 
a par with the 'vital force' of the older physiology. This 
is not to deny that we may continue to make good use of 
the rectified conception ; just as physiology would find it 
difficult to get on without the notion of life. 

(b) The Conception of Will 

The attempt to erect into substantial entities not merely 
our inner perceptions themselves, but even the various aspects 
which they offer to our conceptual thought, has nowhere 
wrought more confusion than in the conception of will. A 
division of the feelings into certain classes was suggested by 
their obvious relation to ideas. But in the case of the will 
there was not even this motive for adopting an individualising 
method of treatment. On the contrary, the fact that all 
distinctions between volitions might be successfully referred 
to the accompanying feelings and desires gave the more 
warrant for the view that the will itself was a substantial 
force, which at most presented occasional differences in 
intensity, but in general stood distinct from the varied 

6 The Moral Will [435-6 

residue of conscious content as one and the same Deus ex 
machina. Even such vague differences as that of pleasant- 
ness and unpleasantness were lost in the case of will. True, 
the will might occasionally be accompanied by a feeling of 
pleasantness or unpleasantness, by a desire or aversion, but 
in its essence it remained indifferent to these extraneous 
accompaniments. Whether its decisions were impelled by 
pleasure and passion, whether it was a cold spectator, or 
whether, as Kant required, it acted in direct opposition 
to inclination, it was still the same will, the pure abstraction 
of activity substantialised into a real force. 

If we discard prejudice and make up our minds to consider 
the facts as they show themselves to be, apart from any con- 
ceptual scheme, these creations of an imaginative power that 
gives life to the abstractions of its own thought will vanish. 
They assume the form which they may rightfully claim — that 
of points of view chosen with more or less regard to their 
practical utility, from which we may look at the series of 
inner events ; or, if one prefers the expression, that of various 
aspects which this series furnishes to our consideration. 
Every act of will presupposes a feeling with a definite and 
peculiar tone : it is so closely bound up with this feeling that, 
apart from it, the act of will has no reality at all. The two 
share throughout that concrete and definite character which 
in strictness makes every single act of our psychical life 
different from every other. On the other hand, all feeling 
presupposes an act of will ; the quality of the feeling indi- 
cates the direction in which the will is stimulated by the 
object with which the feeling is connected. We speak of 
effort or desire when the transition from will to action is 
checked by some kind of internal resistance ; for example, 
by opposing impulses. Thus will becomes desire when such 
resistance arises ; desire becomes will when the resistance 
disappears. Hence these distinctions are purely conceptual : 

436-7] Will and Consciousness 7 

the flow of conscious life is not concerned with them. Not 
infrequently it is less the fact itself than the way in which we 
choose to look at the fact that decides what term we shall 
use. Voluntary activity, however, is always present when 
a feeling is followed by an alteration in conscious content 
corresponding to the direction of the feeling, and, under 
certain conditions, by the associated external act. It is thus 
the feeling, which precedes and stands in immediate relation 
to the given change in consciousness, that alone distinguishes 
voluntary activity from other conscious processes. Precisely 
on account of its dependence upon subjective excitation, we 
regard an alteration in the course of our ideas, occasioned by 
a feeling of pleasantness or unpleasantness, as the charac- 
teristic expression of self-activity. We call such a process 
active, spontaneous, or willed, terms which have exactly the 
same meaning ; and we contrast with these active processes 
all others as merely passive experiences. 1 

So far as we know them in introspection and can infer 
them from external perception, consciousness and will are 
inseparably united. But will is not merely a function which 
sometimes accrues to consciousness and is sometimes lacking : 
it is an integral property of consciousness. Thus, will has 
its share in the development of consciousness. Perhaps it 
would be better to say that this development is in its most 
essential parts a development of will. Hence a principal 
manifestation of the growing wealth of inner experience is 
to be found in the forms of voluntary activity. Thereby the 
will gains an ever greater complexity of internal structure. 
Various currents of volitional excitation run side by side and 
intermingle, and so the act of will itself becomes an increas- 
ingly complex product of elementary processes alike in kind. 

1 Cf. on this point my Grundziige d. physiolagischen Psychologie, 4th ed., 
ii., pp. 255, 577 ff. ; Essays, pp. 199 ff., 286 ff. ; and Philos. Studien, vi., 
PP- 373 ff- 

8 The Moral Will [437-8 

Earlier impressions, which, under the form of ideas, have lost 
their power to affect consciousness, can still exert an influence 
upon the voluntary act, especially if they are combined with 
other elements that belong to the immediate present. Such 
excitants of the will as these, which fail to reach their full 
effectiveness, but which precede and accompany the indi- 
vidual action, remain in the stage of feeling. Since, how- 
ever, even those stimuli which pass over into an active 
alteration of consciousness are perceptible as feelings before 
they bring about their result, the feelings may be treated as, 
generally speaking, the most immediate conditions of volun- 
tary activity. In so far as they anticipate the voluntary act 
by their general quality and direction, they serve as the im- 
mediate motives of volition. The only way in which any 
other kind of conscious state can operate on the will is by 
becoming a state of feeling : in itself it may be a mediate 
but not a direct motive of volition. Every feeling is, on the 
other hand, an immediate motive ; every feeling of pleasure 
marks a striving towards the object that excites the pleasure ; 
every unpleasant feeling a striving against its object, and the 
effort towards or away from the object becomes voluntary 
activity whenever it is not checked by opposing feelings. 
This direct relation between feeling and action seems, at 
first sight, less clear in the case of many feelings, such as 
those belonging to the intellectual and aesthetic classes. 
Really, however, it is only more easily overlooked here be- 
cause of the forms assumed by the voluntary act under such 
circumstances. A person lost in contemplation of a work of 
art is striving to preserve his perception of it, and his will 
offers a powerful resistance to other and distracting impres- 
sions. Intellectual activity requires a very high degree of 
internal tension on the part of the will, and this tension is 
brought about through the strong affective motives of in- 
terest and satisfaction. 

438] Will and Consciousness 9 

(c) The Motives and Causes of Will. 

Since our introspection shows us that an affective motive 
is the indispensable antecedent of the voluntary act, it is 
natural to assume that the causal determination of will is 
wholly comprehended in this relation to the feelings that 
precede or accompany volition. The very terms ' motive ' 
and ' ground of action ' indicate an assumption of this sort, 
which, moreover, finds support in the notion, described above, 
of psychical activities as separated and split off from each other. 
Such a conception makes it peculiarly difficult to understand 
how psychical forces that are wholly different in nature can 
operate on each other ; and this difficulty is, as a rule, a 
welcome opportunity to the upholders of a substantial will. 
" Of course," we are now told, " motives cannot be the deter- 
mining causes of will, for only things of the same kind can 
stand in a true causal connection. It follows that motives 
are merely the conditions under which the decision of the will 
occurs ; the cause of this decision can be nothing but the will 
itself." We shall meet this truly scholastic course of reason- 
ing again when we come to consider the problem of freedom. 
It is so evidently an ontological artifice that we need not 
pause long over it. The abstraction of a will without content 
and separated from all its real relations is first transformed 
into a substantial thing, and then it is discovered that the 
thing is in reality as empty as the concept to which it 
corresponds. To allow this would involve too glaring a con- 
tradiction of experience ; and so the theory ends by admitting, 
under the name of conditions, as much as is necessary of 
the real relations in which the will exists, and separating off, 
under the title of true causes, as much as seems desirable 
for other reasons. 

However, if such ontological inventions as the one just 
described do not suffice to free the will from the empirical 

io The Moral Will [439 

causality of the feelings, there is another and a weightier 
reason why we should not regard the immediate affective 
motives as the true or complete causal determinants of the 
will. This reason is found in the very fact that the will 
is not, as the above theory represents it, something foreign 
and opposed to the feelings, but forms with them a single 
coherent process, and cannot be separated from them except 
by a process of abstraction that is not even always definite 
as regards its limits. If, as we have seen, the feelings are 
themselves merely undeveloped volitions, they can be said 
to share in causing the will only as each stage in the course 
of any process depends upon the preceding stage. Hence, 
in the total complex of the causal conditions of will, the 
immediate affective motives are effects far more than they 
are causes. This is especially true of those decisive motives 
which really determine the action in accordance with their 
quality and direction. In so far as they precede the decision 
of the will and are among the forces most active in the strife 
between various motives, they form, it is true, a specially 
important part of the causes of volitions. In so far, however, 
as they accompany the action, or even its results, they are 
integral parts of the effect itself. But all the feelings that 
motivate an action presuppose other causal conditions just 
as much as the motives that finally decide it. Feelings and 
desires are thus simply the last members of a causal series 
that is only to a very limited extent accessible to our intro- 
spection, since it ends by taking in the whole previous history 
of the individual consciousness and the sum total of the 
conditions which originally determined the latter. And so 
we see that every voluntary act, even the simplest, is the end 
of an infinite series, of which the last links alone are open 
to our observation. 

But the term motive in its wider significance means not 
merely the feelings that immediately indicate the direction 

439-4°] Will and Consciousness 1 1 

and quality of the voluntary act which they precede : it 
includes the ideas with which these feelings are associated. 
Although, when considered in their true nature, feeling and 
idea form inseparable parts of one and the same process, in 
the present instance the feeling element seems to become 
more intense in proportion as it assumes the character of 
a force acting on the will. Thus the less powerful motives 
are those which are weaker in feeling-tone : the element of 
will is there, but it is too weak to prevail over other and 
stronger motives. 

From this point of view we are led to draw certain distinc- 
tions which have their importance in the consideration of 
voluntary actions. Those motives which actually operate 
upon the will we shall call actual motives ; those which as 
conscious elements of weaker feeling-tone remain ineffective 
we shall designate as potential motives. When an actual 
motive involves the idea of the effect of the corresponding 
action it is a purpose or final motive. And if the final motive 
anticipates in idea the ultimate result of the action it is 
the leading motive, as distinguished from incidental motives, 
which involve ideas of effects that either precede the most 
important result of the act or form inessential accompany- 
ing features. If, in the former case, the incidental results 
are regarded as conditions of the ultimate result, they are 
called means. Such incidental and auxiliary results may, 
especially in the case of the more complex voluntary acts, 
have an influence on the nature of the action not less im- 
portant than that of the final result itself. They may vary, 
however, while the latter remains identical. Any given 
leading motive may be accompanied by different combina- 
tions of incidental motives, and the total purpose or aim of 
the action is determined by the sum of all these motives. 
But since motives form only a part of the causal determinants 
of will ; since, moreover, external influences may intervene 

12 The Moral Will [440-1 

in the course of the action, to help or hinder, it is self- 
evident that the total effect of an act does not necessarily 
coincide with its total purpose. Especially in cases where 
there is but a single aim in view, and where in consequence 
the distinction between leading and incidental motives lapses, 
effect and purpose necessarily fail to coincide. In such a 
case none of the incidental effects of the action are included 
in the motivation of the act. But when these effects have a 
considerable importance it may easily happen that the main 
purpose is injured or wholly frustrated by them. Motive and 
effect are then wholly diverse ; the will strives for something 
that it does not attain, and attains something for which it 
does not strive. 

( d) The Development of Will : Heterogenetic and 
Autogenetic Theories. 

The distinctions just discussed derive their great im- 
portance for the estimation of voluntary actions chiefly from 
their bearing on the development of the will. Two views 
have been held as to the solution of this problem, which 
represent diametrically opposed positions ; we may call the 
one the heterogenetic, the other the autogenetic theory of will. 
The first regards the will as a function originating in 
consciousness out of other conscious elements, more 
particularly out of ideas. The second regards it as an 
original property given together with consciousness. Al- 
though we have already laid stress on the impossibility 
of separating consciousness from its functions, or the latter 
from one another, so long as we are dealing with direct 
introspective analysis, yet this does not wholly exclude the 
supposition that certain aspects of our inner life, which form 
for us at the present time integral parts of that life, have not 
always been such ; that elements which our abstraction 
distinguishes in the developed consciousness were lacking 

44i-2] Will and Consciousness 13 

in its original state. But the heterogenetic theory of will 
is unable to explain the very point upon which it rests, 
namely, how the will originates from psychical elements of 
a different nature. In its attempt to do so it reasons in 
a circle, assuming what it should explain. Consciousness 
is supposed to discover that certain movements are adapted 
to the production of certain results, and accordingly these 
movements, originally involuntary, gradually come to be 
performed with the co-operation of the will. But unless the 
will were there at the outset, unless the effect of will on 
movement were already present to consciousness, such an 
application of involuntary reflex and automatic movements 
would be impossible; they would be for consciousness as 
wholly passive as any processes in the external world. 
Besides, the fact that involuntary, purely mechanical move- 
ments are adapted to ends, a fact which this theory looks 
upon as conditioning the development of purposive, 
voluntary action, is itself, on the contrary, to be explained 
by the assumption that such movements develop out of 
actions which presuppose purpose, hence out of voluntary 
actions : a sequence of processes that accords with our 
observations of the lowest forms of animal life, where 
movements of an unmistakably voluntary character can be 
traced before any distinctly adaptive reflexes are developed. 1 
The autogenetic theory of will also assumes that the 
complex voluntary activities have been developed. But 
it supposes that in this development the complex result 
has proceeded from simple elements of a like nature with 
the result itself. This theory dwells especially upon two 
points, which the heterogenetic view tends more or less 
completely to overlook. The first is the fact that every 
external act of will is the necessary sequence of an internal 
volition, and that in this latter, which, as a change in 
1 Cf. Phihsophische Studien, i., pp. 337 ff. ; vi., pp. 382 ff. 


The Moral Will [442-3 

consciousness resulting immediately from affective motives, 
bears the stamp of self- activity, the essential features of 
volition are involved. In the second place, among those 
external actions which are accompanied by affective motives, 
the heterogenetic theory recognises only the more complex 
instances, where several motives are apparent in conscious- 
ness, as, properly speaking, voluntary in character. Really, 
however, these complex actions are preceded in the natural 
course of development by simpler forms, where there is no 
conflict of motives, because the single motive, which is the 
only one present, immediately determines the action. 

Following Leibniz, we shall call that inner activity which 
bears the stamp of spontaneity apperception. That form of 
external voluntary act, on the other hand, which follows from 
the direct operation of a single and isolated motive we shall 
term impulsive action. Thus we see that the explanation 
of voluntary activity given by the ordinary theory of will 
is incomplete, first, because it overlooks the existence of 
apperception as an internal voluntary act, and secondly, 
because it fails to observe that impulsive actions are nothing 
more nor less than simple voluntary actions. Both points 
are of great importance in considering the motives, ends 
and results of will. 

(e) The Forms of Voluntary Activity. 

Even in the practical judgments which we pass upon the 
will we are not content with bringing the outward visible 
effects of will before our bar, as we should have to be, if the 
voluntary act were purely external in character. Rather we 
regard the deed as at most a measure of the worth of the 
inner decision that preceded it. But the latter itself is 
really a voluntary act, and it maintains this character even 
when the outward deed is suppressed by some inhibiting 

443] Will and Consciousness 15 

influence. In such cases there may be little or no objective 
judgment of the act, because the decision of the will, purely 
internal in character, is hidden from outward observation ; 
but it does not escape subjective judgment. We behold 
ourselves first and chiefly in the light of our inner will, and 
so we cannot hide from our self-judgment those inner acts 
which never become outward deeds, even those which by 
their very nature are incapable of outward expression. 
If our powers of thought and will did not find themselves 
constantly controlled by this voice of self, which can never 
be wholly silenced, the education of the will would lack its 
most efficient auxiliary. Of course the external effects of 
the act are not wholly indifferent, even for its subjective 
estimation. It is only in the judgment which we pass upon 
our own character that the volition which has no outward 
effect is decisive ; and even this judgment may be modified 
favourably or unfavourably, according as other internal 
volitions or chance external influences contribute to make 
the transition to the outward act more or less easy. By 
reason of its effects on the surrounding world, and the 
helping or hindering influences which our Ego thus exerts 
on others or on a totality of individuals, the outward mani- 
festation of will must always be of the first importance 
in moral judgment. Above all, a deeper reason for its 
importance is to be found in the fact that only when motive 
and purpose are followed by an external effect can the 
individual will operate upon a total will, and under such 
circumstances alone can it share to a certain extent in the 
expressions of this total will. However, even the purely 
internal activity of the will is not wholly without its effects. 
It brings about continual changes in our inner life, and it is 
responsible for the permanent influences which certain 
tendencies of disposition and thought exert upon personal 

1 6 The Moral Will [443-4 

While internal volitions thus involve all the elements of 
will, motive, purpose and effect, these elements are not 
absent even in the case of impulsive actions, which are 
usually regarded as the very opposite of voluntary; for 
impulses are nothing but simple, singly determined acts of 
will. We may call a volition simple where there is but 
a single motive operating in consciousness, upon which the 
act unhesitatingly follows. The hungry animal that seizes 
the food offered to it acts without choice, but not without 
will. The drowning man, exerting his utmost powers to save 
himself from the flood, may obey various motives in the 
choice of means, but most of his movements will be directly 
governed by that instinct for life which overcomes every 
other stimulus. The pedestrian, taking a course which he 
has planned beforehand, starts with a complex act of will ; 
and even in the further execution of his decision various 
motives may intervene to alter his plans ; but for by far the 
greater part of the time the action once begun follows im- 
pulsively upon the single motive which has become the 
controlling one. Simple and complex acts of will, or, as 
we -may more briefly distinguish them, impulsive and 
voluntary acts, may thus be blended and combined in all 
kinds of ways. Only in rare cases does the execution of a 
complex action belong entirely either to the one class or to 
the other. Sometimes the process is impulsive at the outset, 
voluntary movements coming in later in its course. This is 
the case with most of the expressions of instinct in animals 
and with similar movements in man, as, for example, the 
efforts instanced above of a drowning man to save himself. 
Sometimes, on the other hand, the beginning of the action 
is voluntary, but later the act becomes transformed into an 
expression of pure impulse ; for instance, the movements of 
the pedestrian, so long as he follows the direction which he 
chose at the outset. Under certain conditions it is difficult 


444-5] Will and Consciousness 17 

or impossible to distinguish outwardly between the two forms 
of movement, not only because the mechanical means are 
the same in both cases, but because the co-ordination of 
movements is identical. For both kinds of movement involve 
that congenital mechanism of the central nervous system, 
whose adaptation to certain physiological purposes is so 
clearly evident in the reflexes which take place without any 
conscious accompaniment. This innate mechanism is not, 
however, unalterable ; new purposive combinations of move- 
ments may be brought about by the will, and these com- 
binations will thereafter function with mechanical accuracy 
and without further voluntary control. It is probable, 
therefore, that the congenital disposition to purposive vital 
expressions has itself resulted in the general course of 
development from the after-effects of voluntary actions, 
especially since our experience can show no other source 
than subjective purposes for structures that are objectively 
adapted to ends. 

This characteristic difference between impulsive and 
voluntary actions, namely, that in the former case there 
is only one motive in consciousness, or that if there are 
several, they act in combination, necessarily implies the 
absence of the idea of choice from the conception of impulse. 
We express this fact when we say that impulsive actions 
are univocally determined and voluntary actions equivocally 
determined. 1 An action is univocally determined when its 
performance was preceded only by actual motives ; it is 
equivocally determined when both actual and potential 
motives were present. The distinction between main and 
incidental motives also lapses in the case of impulsive action. 

1 It is hardly necessary to remark that these expressions must not be interpreted 
as meaning that in equivocally determined actions the will actually operates in 
different directions at the same time. In this sense, of course, all actions are 
univocal. ' Equivocally determined ' is a short way of saying ' influenced by 
motives that strive to determine the will in different directions. ' 

1 8 The Moral Will [445-6 

The latter come into play only when regard is had to 
incidental or intermediate effects, which are related to the 
main effect as means to an end. But where there is a choice 
of means, as where there is a choice of ends, the volition 
is no longer simple. Impulse, on the other hand, follows 
blindly, without choice of the motive by which it is ruled. 
It therefore involves none of those elements of moral judg- 
ment which in the case of complex acts of will relate to 
choice, either of means or of ends. A purely impulsive 
action, considered in and for itself, merits neither praise nor 
blame ; at most, the fact that impulse prevailed under cir- 
cumstances where we were justified in expecting deliberation 
and choice, may influence our estimate of the character or 
mental condition of the agent. 

Still more important is another characteristic which may 
distinguish impulsive from voluntary action, though it does 
not necessarily do so. It is probably always true of the 
earlier expressions of impulse, and at least frequently true 
of the later ones, that the motive does not possess the 
character of a purpose, hence that the action is not preceded 
by the idea of its effect. The child that " seeks the mother's 
breast" — as the process is usually but inappropriately de- 
scribed — is in reality impelled to movement merely by the 
feelings which are combined with the sensation of hunger ; 
apart from these accompanying conscious excitants, its move- 
ments are precisely like reflexes. They seem purposive to 
the objective observer, just as reflexes do, because they are 
adapted to the end attained. Such adaptation, moreover, 
can be nothing but the result of inherited organisation, for 
the idea which should serve as purpose is first produced 
by the movement itself. And the whole of experience tells 
against the supposition that ready-made ideas are innate 
in consciousness. The case is similar to the primitive ex- 
pressions of instinct in animals, except that their organisation, 

446-7] Will and Consciousness 19 

being planned for vital ends of a more limited character, is 
more completely determined at the outset with reference to 
these ends, so that less remains to be done by individual 
practice. There is no doubt, moreover, that these expressions 
of impulse without a definitely ideated purpose are not con- 
fined to the earliest period of life. We can observe countless 
such instances among our own movements ; actions that 
cannot be classed as purely mechanical reflexes, because 
they are preceded by a distinct motive in the shape of 
feeling. Thus we shift an uncomfortable load because it 
occasions a feeling of inconvenience ; we react against 
an unpleasant impression by a repelling movement, with 
no definite intention of attaining an end by such movement. 
The new position that we assume may be more uncomfort- 
able than the old, and very likely the disturbing impression 
may be quite out of reach of the hand that tries to push 
it away. 1 

Instances like these of actions which are on the borderland 
between reflexes and impulses, but which must be reckoned 
with the latter because of the undoubted presence of psychical 
motives, manifest the principle of the heterogony of purpose, 
mentioned above, in its most primitive form. The motive 
which, when the action was first performed, was a mere 
feeling, becomes a purpose when the act is repeated. If 
it were not the nature of living beings to produce adaptive 
effects which are spontaneously revivable in idea, and which, 
when thus revived, succeed in reproducing feelings and 
actions having the same results, the development of con- 
sciously purposive action, and hence of voluntary action, 
would be impossible. 

The subsequent development of purpose is analogous to 
its origin. As the effect of an act exceeds its purpose, so 

1 Cf. on this point my Physiologische Psychologie, 4th ed. , ii. , pp. 501 ff. ; and 
Essays, pp. 191 ff. 

20 The Moral Will [4+7-8 

new purposes, broader and more comprehensive in character, 
are formed. The principle of psychical growth manifested in 
this progressive creation of conscious ends for human action 
finds its clearest expression in the history of moral ideas. 1 

(a) The Ego and Personality. 

The will is in the first instance given as the activity of a 
single consciousness ; hence as an expression of individual 
life. As such its development runs parallel with that of 
self-consciousness ; or perhaps it would be more appropriate 
to say that these two coincide, forming different aspects of 
a process which is in itself single. The Ego's self-dis- 
crimination is involved in its inner and outer acts of will, 
and it is in the direct perception of his own activity that 
the individual discovers himself as a separate personality. 
While this activity is regularly associated with alterations 
in the content of consciousness, and, itself relatively un- 
changed, accompanies every other change of inner state, it 
appears as that element of inner perception which conditions 
all combinations on the part of other psychical events. For 
out of the multitude of actions performed by an individual 
it is the inner acts, the acts of apperception, that stand out 
as more original and immediate than the rest; while the 
outward movements, important though they may be for the 
earliest stages of self-discrimination, represent merely the 
consequences of particular kinds of apperceptions. Hence 
the final stage of this development consists in the individual's 
discovery that his own innermost being is pure apperception ; 
that is, an inner voluntary activity distinct from the rest of 
conscious content. The Ego feels itself to be the same at 

1 Cf. Part I., especially chap, ii., pp. 329-30. 

448] The Individual Will and the Social Will 21 

every moment of its life, because it conceives the activity of 
apperception as perfectly constant, homogeneous in its nature, 
and coherent in time. 

Yet the separation of will from the other elements of 
inner perception can never be carried out so completely that 
the relations which always exist between them disappear. 
On the contrary, the greater the intensity with which the 
will operates as a force independent of external constraint, 
and manifests itself as the centre of self-consciousness, the 
more we are led to realise its power over ideas and feelings, 
and to look upon our inner life as one willed by the Ego. 
Of course, we can never wholly adopt this conception, because, 
besides the influence of will in inner processes, there is the 
constraining force of external nature, which is never absent. 
However, in proportion as the will frees itself from these 
external influences, we approach the realisation of that ideal 
of personal existence where the whole inner life of man 
appears as his own creation ; where for good or evil he 
regards himself as the originator of his own thoughts and 
emotions, and of all the outward consequences that may 
flow from them. Thus the same course of development 
which led us to consider everything in our inner life that 
is distinct from the will as foreign to the Ego ends by 
showing us that the Ego and this inner life are but the 
more intimately one. This unity of feeling, thought and 
will, in which the will appears as the active power that 
sustains the other elements, is the individual personality. 

As the Ego is the will in its distinction from the rest of 
conscious content, so personality is the Ego reunited to the 
manifold of this content and thereby raised to the stage of 

22 The Moral Will [449 

(b) The Relation of the Individual to the Whole. 
The single self-conscious personality is continually sub- 
jected to a double influence. On the one hand, it is always 
affected by the general conditions of external nature, which 
sometimes help and sometimes oppose the will. While the 
independence of the Ego is thus limited by the constraint 
of natural events, the whole course of the development of 
will tends to free it from these restrictions. The case is 
quite different with the second influence, which affects the 
individual will in its inner development as well as in its 
outward expression. This influence consists in the volition 
of other and like personalities, which the individual will 
encounters for the most part in the pursuit of similar ends ; 
an agreement of purpose which sometimes proves of ad- 
vantage to the will, and sometimes involves it in conflict 
with others or even with itself. The whole process assumes 
a different aspect here on account of the like nature of the 
forces acting upon each other ; not only because the power 
of the individual will can bring about its results only when 
it finds itself in sufficient agreement with the general ten- 
dency of other wills, but also and chiefly because the 
individual will discovers itself to be an element in a total 
will which supports it in its motives and ends. What 
seemed from the individual's point of view like a sum of 
distinct and even conflicting forces now reveals itself to 
• the full self-consciousness of the awakened personality as 
a more comprehensive unity, within which each individual 
reflects the motives and purposes that fill the whole. Here 
we have repeated on a higher plane the same process 
through which the individual personality itself passed. The 
Ego began by regarding all the content of consciousness 
outside of the will as foreign to itself, and ended by re- 
assimilating it in self-consciousness. So the individual 

449- S°] The Individual Will and the Social Will 23 

personality first distinguishes itself from the beings of like 
nature with itself that surround it, only to reunite with 
them in a more clearly conscious unity. 

The outward signs of this transition from individual to 
social consciousness, and the corresponding social will, are 
all those elements of culture and morals which express the 
common feeling and thought of a society. Speech, religious 
views, like habits of life and standards of action, point to the 
existence of a common intellectual possession, which far 
exceeds in scope anything that the individual can obtain. 
Political union in such a society, whose members are governed 
by like ideas, is but the natural result and the self-evident 
expression of this inner unity. It is a result that can fail to 
follow or develop under any but the natural conditions, only 
when external influences operate as a hindrance. Political 
union, moreover, is that form of the social consciousness 
which expresses most clearly its character as social will. 

None of these influences of morals, of religion, of law 
and of direct personal intercourse, which are analogous to 
volition and thought in the individual, could develop if it 
were not for the fundamental likeness pre-existing between 
individual wills. Wherever there are men of like disposi- 
tions, living under the same natural conditions, they must 
have ideas and feelings that are identical in content. No- 
where can we find a more striking evidence of this fact than 
in the earliest of all expressions of a common life, in speech. 
What seems to one man the most suitable expression for his 
thought appears equally appropriate to others. Expression 
and the comprehension of its meaning are one at the outset 
But along with speech go all the other functions of human 
intercourse. While speech often serves as the external 
means for the production of like ideas, its use for this pur- 
pose is rendered possible only by the fact that men live 
in a world of like external impressions and events. 

2 4 

The Moral Will [45°- i 

(c) Individualism and Universalism. 

The community of human thought and feeling can never 
have been ignored so completely as to escape a certain 
degree of recognition when the human race is considered 
historically. But the origin of this unity and the relation 
it involves between the individual and the social will remain 
to be explained. There are two possible theories on this 
point. According to the first, only the individual will is 
truly real ; it is thus the original factor, while the social will 
is merely a chance agreement brought about partly by ex- 
ternal influences and partly by the free decision of individuals. 
According to this second theory, the social will is as 
fundamental and as real as the wills of individuals ; it 
determines the individual will more than it is itself deter- 
mined thereby. We may term the first theory the individual- 
istic, the second the universalistic theory of will. 

At the present time individualism is the ruling tendency 
in philosophy, in practical life and in the opinions of 
political theorists. This has not always been the case, 
and we may anticipate that it will not always remain so. 
The political sentiment of the ancients was grounded on 
the opposite view, which was that expressed in the works 
of the greatest political theorists of antiquity, Plato and 
Aristotle. Not until we reach the philosophy of the En- 
lightenment, which in its broader sense may be said to include 
both the empirical and the rationalistic systems of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, does individualism 
take on its present form, that of something very like the 
incontrovertible religion of public opinion. From Bacon 
to Kant, no thinker could escape it. Hobbes" Leviathan 
and Rousseau's Contrat Social mark even yet the extreme 
limits within which the compass needle of political opinions 
fluctuates, and all the wisdom of the moderate Liberalism 

45 1-2] The Individual Will and the Social Will 25 

of to-day is essentially contained in Locke's Letters on 
Toleration and Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico - Politicus. 
It would ill become us to put a light estimate upon an 
age capable of producing such works. That was an age 
for which the individualism inscribed upon their standards 
by the independent thinkers of all parties was deeply signi- 
ficant and deeply justified. For its task was to free men's 
spirits from the constraint of class prejudices, national 
limitations and the brutal egoism of the ruling castes. 
This could be done only through an appeal to the feeling 
for self in each man, which apprised him clearly and 
emphatically of the original rights of his own personality. 
As opposed to social institutions where countless numbers 
of men were made use of, for the profit of a few, the theory 
that the State was made for individuals and not individuals 
for the State was a blow struck for freedom. The first and 
essential step towards preparing the way for a higher con- 
ception of the social will, a conception that should transcend 
the narrow humanism of the ancient world, was to establish 
the moral value of the individual personality. 

Wherever they bear on the problem of the relation between 
the individual and the social will, the social theories of the 
Enlightenment, which still prevail on our political rostra, are 
all merely variations of one and the same conception. The 
truth of this is borne out by the fact that all their spokes- 
men, Hobbes as well as Locke, Rousseau, or Helvetius, have 
precisely the same ideas about the origin of the social will 
and its relation to individuals. Of course, they did not go 
into this question directly, because from the start they 
recognised no reality save the individual will ; but it was 
indirectly involved in their theories about the origin of 
speech, religion, morals and law. The individualism of the 
Enlightenment held all these products of the human spirit 
to be the outcome of deliberate legislation. It believed 

26 The Moral Will [452-3 

either that these institutions, many of which were regarded 
from another point of view as evils rather than blessings, 
were the legacy of certain primitive lawgivers ; or that 
the social union originated by an agreement made after 
taking into consideration the welfare of all individuals. The 
natural outcome of such conceptions is a variety of fictions 
with regard to the primitive state of society, which assume 
different forms according to the special tendency of the 
theory in question, but are all alike in recognising no will 
other than that of individuals. Though the arbitrary and 
improbable nature of these hypotheses gradually be- 
came apparent, it was also perfectly evident that an in- 
dividualistic ethics could offer no substitute. Hume, who 
expressly terms them a kind of experimental fiction, makes 
in his own discussion of the origin of justice assumptions 
that are essentially based on these very fictions 1 ; and Kant 
transforms the social contract and the other primitive rights 
of man into ideas, which, it is true, have no historical 
existence, but which have to be treated as if they had. 2 
As a matter of fact, if the individual will alone is real, 
and if, as a necessary consequence of the first supposition, 
all our original impulses are egoistic in character, we must 
either regard those expressions of volitional life which are 
beyond the power of the single individual as instruments 
created in a kind of agreement by general consent, or leave 
the question of their origin in the metaphysical darkness 
that shrouds the ultimate source of things. 

But all these fictions must vanish before the simple fact 
that the isolated individual man whom they presuppose does 
not exist and undoubtedly never has existed as a fact of 
experience. We know man only as a social being, governed 
at once by an individual will and by the will of the whole : 

1 Cf. Part II., chap, in., pp. 36-77. 

2 Philosophy of Law, trans, by W. Hastie, pp. 63, 161. 

453-4] The Individual Will and the Social Will 27 

and there is no evidence to show that the latter had its origin 
in the former. On the contrary, the relative independence of 
the individual will is the result of a later evolution. As the 
child becomes conscious of its own will by a gradual process, 
and slowly develops its own personality out of an environ- 
ment which at first it scarcely distinguishes from itself, so 
in the state of nature it is the common feeling, thought and 
will that dominate. Man individualises himself out of a 
state of social indifference ; not, however, to remain separated 
from the society of which he is a product, but to restore 
himself to its service with powers more fully developed. 
To explain egoistic action requires no far-fetched motives 
or complicated trains of reflection, and they are as little 
necessary to account for the simplest exercise of care for 
others or the most primitive expression of a common feeling. 
A man who has fallen into the water and tries to save 
himself is evidently furnishing an instance of the universal 
instinct of self-preservation. But for one man to jump into 
the water to save another requires, it is supposed, the in- 
tervention of a complicated series of processes : sympathy 
to make him realise the other man's sensations, associations 
that gradually overcome the supreme domination of the self- 
preserving instinct, even rational reflections on the utility 
of unselfish actions. Yet observation fails to prove the 
existence of any of these processes which psychologists and 
moralists have devised for the support of their theories. 
One thing it does prove beyond a doubt, namely, that the 
reaction of the will is equally immediate in the altruistic 
and in the egoistic act. Deliberation and reflection may 
follow the act, but they do not precede it, and if they should, 
they would probably tend rather to paralyse than to stimulate 
the will. 

If we mean by sympathy, or fellow-feeling, the mere fact 
that the emotion produced by the sight of another's sorrow is 

28 The Moral Will [454-5 

itself a painful emotion, corresponding to a certain extent 
in intensity and quality with the impression that arouses 
it, no objection need be raised to the terms. But if they 
signify that the original sorrow and the sympathetic sorrow 
are qualitatively identical, they state what is evidently false. 
No emotions could be more different than the terror of a 
drowning man and the determined courage of his rescuer ; 
the hunger and anxiety of the starving workman and the 
humane kindness of the philanthropist who wishes to help 
his suffering. If such a similarity between the original 
emotion and the sympathetic emotion really existed, the 
latter would be deprived of all the characteristics that fit 
it to be of use as a practical motive. It is, indeed, a 
peculiarity of man's nature that the experiences of others 
are not indifferent to him, but have their influence on his 
thoughts and feelings, just as his own experiences have. 
But the individual's environment forms an inalienable part 
of his conscious life, and gives to every idea its own peculiar 
feeling-value. It follows that altruistic feelings are as original 
and primitive as egoistic feelings ; but it follows also that 
they have a specific character which renders idle all attempts 
to derive them from the latter. We cannot make our self- 
regarding feelings identical with those that relate to our 
fellow-men, any more than we can, except in dreams and 
cases of mental derangement, take ourselves to be other 
people. It is only by recognising this truth that we can 
understand why the strife between egoistic and altruistic 
impulses should be one of the most common forms of conflict 
between motives, and why, moreover, the victory in this 
conflict should as a matter of experience fall now to the one 
side and now to the other. If sympathetic feeling were 
only transferred egoism, no process of association or re- 
flection could explain the defeat of the more primitive and 
powerful feeling. Psychological individualism leads by in- 

4S5l The Individual Will and the Social Will 29 

herent necessity to ethical egoism. That it usually succeeds 
in avoiding this issue only proves that here as elsewhere facts 
are stronger than theories. 

(d) Ethical Atomism and the Psychological Theory 
of Substance. 

The clearest reflection of the ethical views of an age is 
always to be found in the metaphysical conceptions that 
embody its thoughts about God, the world and humanity. 
Metaphysics may free itself from the direct influence of 
experience, but it will always bear the plain impress of 
those general assumptions and postulates which the spirit 
of the age applies to practical life. So we find that the 
ethical individualism of the last two centuries is most faith- 
fully portrayed in the atomistic conception of the soul 
maintained by Cartesianism. Psychology has shown the 
worthlessness of this doctrine, but it will probably continue 
to survive for some time in the popular metaphysics of 
persons of culture and eclectic philosophers, as a symptom 
which, though of little importance for metaphysics, yet fur- 
nishes a striking proof of the hold that the ethical ideas of 
the rationalistic Enlightenment still have upon us. Psychical 
atomism, with its simple substances whose interaction is 
purely external and occasional, allows of no spiritual 
coherence, no universal psychical life, or universal psychical 
ends, except such as are common to a number of individuals 
who happen to live together. Such a view is tolerable only 
if real life is regarded as merely a temporary stage of 
preparation for a better existence in the future. Even then, 
the outcome must correspond to the nature of the preparatory 
stage. As a matter of fact, this ethical egoism goes to the 
length of regarding the connection of souls as the source 
of the evil in existence, and extols a condition in which 


The Moral Will [455-6 

its psychical atoms shall be wholly free, that is, wholly 
isolated, as the state of true blessedness. To be strictly 
consistent, it ought to demand a separate heaven for each 
and every soul. 

The philosophy of Spinoza represents a powerful reaction, 
having its source in the deepest religious needs, against this 
pluralistic conception. But even in Spinoza the impulse 
to secure spiritual liberty to the individual is too deeply 
rooted. He brings two elements into direct combination 
with no intermediary stages : a sense of individual freedom, 
which feels every kind of political influence that is not 
absolutely necessary for protection as sheer constraint ; and 
a consciousness of the unity existing between the individual 
and the infinite. Among the successors of Spinoza it was 
Leibniz whose vision, in this respect as in others, reached 
beyond the horizon of his time, and who came nearest to 
transcending the limitations of individualistic ethics. Such 
was the significance and tendency of his brilliant reform 
of metaphysical atomism. His principle of pre-established 
harmony was like a ray of light manifesting the universal 
psychical Being in the darkness of an age given over to 
external dualism ; an age that reduced all existence to 
material mechanisms, within which spirits were unwillingly 
confined as by a spell. Yet Leibniz could not overcome 
individualism. It was eliminated in the doctrine of universal 
harmony only to be more evident in the absolute simplicity 
and separateness of the psychical substances. The principle 
of harmony and the conception of monads are irrecon- 
cilable ideas, and the attempt to combine them results 
in checking the development of the former. Hence the 
philosophy of Leibniz, like many recent revivals of his 
doctrine, leaves us with the general idea of psychical unities 
existing in a reciprocal relation that is, so far as they 
are concerned, purely external, that does not proceed from 

456-7] The Individual Will and the Social Will 3 1 

the essence of the soul, but is to be understood only in 
the sense of a law imposed by a foreign power. The social 
will has no independent existence. It is a law coming to 
the individual will from without, whether regarded as a moral 
precept emanating directly from God, or as a principle of 
external union among simple substances. The intuitionism 
of Descartes and the English Intellectualists, and the 
Leibnizian system of harmony, are simply different expres- 
sions of the desire to moderate the psychical atomism main- 
tained on theoretical grounds. Such devices, however, only 
involved their authors in metaphysical contradictions, without 
really meeting the ethical need. 

Herbart must be credited with a resolute and consistent 
rejection of all notions that were irreconcilable with the 
conception of monads. He thus gave to psychical atomism 
the only form in which it is metaphysically tenable. As 
a result, the whole common psychical life of humanity was 
a conception foreign to his metaphysics, which was deprived 
of all relation with ethics. This was its death-sentence, 
self-imposed. For if metaphysics has any purpose at all, 
it is surely to solve in a coherent theory of the whole those 
problems which experience furnishes, but with which ex- 
perience cannot competently deal. And in what realm of 
experience can we find more problems, and problems of 
greater urgency, than in ethics? The services of meta- 
physics to psychology and natural science may always be 
replaced by the hypotheses to which these empirical dis- 
ciplines are guided by their own needs ; but the conclusions 
of ethics cannot be formed without a metaphysical con- 
ception of man's psychical life as a whole. 

32 The Moral Will [457-8 

(e) The Individual Will and the Social Will in the Light 
of the Theory of Actuality. 

The truth at which the doctrine of monads and other 
similar theories of substance can arrive only by contradicting 
their own presuppositions, is a direct ethical inference from 
the theory that makes the reality of the soul consist in its 
actual psychical life. 1 As the various psychical activities of 
thought, feeling and will are distinguishable only by a pro- 
cess of abstraction, and are themselves inseparable elements 
of conscious life, so the idea of a soul distinct from the 
content of consciousness is nothing but the empty concept 
of the unity and constant coherence of psychical activities, 
hypostasised into a real substance. As a matter of fact, 
it is no more an independent thing given or postulated in 
any experience, than an idea, a volition, or a feeling is an 
independent thing. We might have pardoned philosophy 
at the Platonic stage of the development of abstract thought 
for substantialising these concepts, as it did those of man, 
animal and the like. But nowadays, when we can explain 
the origin of such ideas without the assumption of con- 
ceptual prototypes, we ought to give up the process of 
transforming our own thought- products into things. In 
Plato's time, making spiritual processes into a kind of 
material substances may have been a good way of insuring 
their independent reality; in our time, it is the best way 
of destroying their independence. 

If the actual soul consists in nothing but conscious 
activity, it follows at once that while this actual essence 
may have its individual peculiarities, its most important 
determining influences transcend the limits of the individual 
consciousness. Our ideas, with their accompanying feelings ; 

1 On the relation between the theories of substantiality and actuality cf. my 
Logik, ii., pp. 502 ff., and System ■ der Philosophic 2nd ed., pp. 301 ff. 

458-9] The Individual Will and the Social Will 33 

the impulses that govern our movements and insure the 
fulfilment of our most essential vital needs : these are in 
their more general features the common property of all 
our fellow-men, and in their more special characteristics 
we share them with our neighbours, who are united to us 
by the ties of birth, speech, customs and historical traditions. 
It is only by the active exercise of will that the individual 
personality ever separates itself from the society to which 
it belongs. Voluntary movement, active apperception and 
its influence on ideas, are the chief forces that bring about 
this separation, whose progress accompanies the growth of 
self-consciousness. Thus on the basis of common psychical 
activities the individual personality grows to independence, 
and comes to be the master of a specific range of thought 
whose individuality, as representing a particular way of 
appropriating and utilising the common intellectual pro- 
perty of humanity, is almost greater than if it were itself 
a separate bit of intellectual property. While in the de- 
velopment of self-conscious personality the individual 
gradually frees himself from the society to which he 
at first belonged, we find him at a higher stage of self- 
consciousness returning to it richer in psychical content, 
because he is now clearly aware of his position in society, 
and has appropriated through culture and the study of 
history fields of thought that were originally foreign to 
him. And the same process which in the individual life 
results in the production of self-conscious personality is 
repeated on an infinitely larger scale in the development 
of the psychical life of humanity. This is shown by the 
contrast between the theories of life that prevail to-day 
and those of the preceding centuries. For unless all signs 
fail, a revolution of opinion is at present going on, in which 
the extreme individualism of the Enlightenment is giving 
place to a revival of the universalism of antiquity, supple- 



The Moral Will [459 

merited by a better notion of the liberty of human per- 
sonality, an improvement that we owe to individualism. 

It follows that the dividing line between the individual 
and the social will, and between the broader and narrower 
aspects of the latter, is not hypothetical, but actual, not extra- 
conscious, but clearly present to consciousness. The will 
and the ideational content of consciousness are individual, 
so far as they are peculiar to the individual personality; 
they belong to a social will, so far as they are common to 
a society of individuals. If the individual soul consists 
wholly in actual psychical functioning, and not in a separately 
existent substrate, we are justified in ascribing to the social 
will a degree of reality not less than that of the individual 
will. Moreover, the historical continuity between our minds 
and those of other ages is real just so far as it is represented 
in consciousness. The unity of our life with that of past 
and future races is real, and not merely apparent, as 
psychological atomism supposes it to be. Culture and his- 
tory form a true common life, not a mere chance resultant 
of innumerable forces whose contact is purely external, and 
whose ultimate ends are widely diverse. 

But in the totality of psychical development all individual 
wills have not the same importance. Here, as elsewhere, the 
law holds good : so much actuality, so much reality. The 
individual will that appropriates the ideas and tendencies 
which [govern the whole, and brings them to self-conscious 
operation in its own activity, does more than merely fulfil the 
social will. It gains the power to stamp society with its 
own characteristic and individual features. Hence a theory 
like Hegel's historical philosophy, which regards the social 
will as the sole objective ethical force, and holds that the 
function of the individual will is merely an unconscious par- 
taking in and fulfilment of the social will, is an exceedingly 
partial view of the truth. Such a theory is a complete 

459-6°] The Individual Will and the Social Will 35 

antithesis to the equally one-sided individualism of the pre- 
ceding centuries. Yet we find, in accordance with the well- 
known rule that extremes meet, an occasional development 
of the most advanced individualism within the Hegelian 
school itself. 1 

At first the individual consciousness simply draws on the 
stock of ideas furnished to it from^without and shared by it 
with surrounding society. Gradually, however, it begins to 
work these ideas over after its own independent fashion. It 
develops impulses which, though already foreshadowed in the 
tendency of the social will, were there too diffused to operate 
as actual forces. Here that power of energetic and self- 
conscious concentration on a definite end, which is character- 
istic of the individual will, comes into play. The social will 
lacks this power, until such ends are indicated to it by 
individuals who epitomise the tendencies of their age and 
environment Hence the enormous importance of leading 
minds. The social consciousness reflects itself after some 
fashion or other in the mind of every individual partaker 
in it; but these reflections are in most cases partial and 
dimmed by prejudice. Prejudices are accepted habits of 
thought, ideas of a bygone age, which were, for the most 
part, adequate to the needs of their own time, but which, 
when applied to the problems of the present, lead to 
illusion. Memory is indeed that mental power which we 
oftenest exercise. Through its aid we see the present in 
the light of the past, and the future in the light of the 
present But the leading minds of an age are those who 
are more clearly conscious than others of the impelling 
forces of public opinion, who concentrate these forces in 

1 Ludwig Feuerbach, and more especially Max Stirner, in his book, Der 
Einzige und sein Eigenthum, are instances ; as also Ferdinand Lassalle, with his 
efforts to combine, after a sufficiently curious fashion, Hegel's historical philosophy 
and the extreme individualism of a Rousseau as expressed in the French 

36 The Moral Will [460-1 

their own personality, and thus gain the power to deter- 
mine or vary their direction, so far as such a power can 
operate within the limits of the tendencies of universal will. 

The scope within which the individual will holds sway 
may be wider or narrower according to the power that will 
exerts, and the favourable or unfavourable conditions under 
which it has developed. In like manner the social will is 
related to the individual will, not as something single and 
unanalysable, but as a series of simple volitional forces. 
Each little society, distinguished from the background of 
universal humanity by reason of certain ideas and en- 
deavours that are common to its members, represents a 
social will, which has all the characteristics of an inde- 
pendent reality, in that it operates as a self-active force 
both on the individuals comprising it and on the regions 
of life above it. Thus the individual is simply the last 
member of a series whose ascending order is lost in in- 
finity. For those impulses which are the common posses- 
sion of humanity are in their turn influenced by historical 
conditions, whose ultimate grounds escape our investigation. 
Hence religion postulates, to complete this infinite regressus, 
the divine will as the last and highest unity out of which 
develop all the stages of the finite realisation of will. 

By reason of this graded series of stages in the develop- 
ment of will, the significance of the notion of leading minds 
varies in intension and in extension. The family, the com- 
munity, professional associations, the school, societies for 
the promotion of culture, the State, — all these departments 
of life are based on a reciprocal relation between the in- 
dividual and the social will. In this relation the majority 
of individual wills represent the passive and receptive 
element ; the real force that occasions every alteration and 
transformation being exerted by the leading minds. The 
original, creative intellectual power is thus always the in- 

461-2] The Individual Will and the Social Will 37 

dividual will. True, the tremendous influence that we 
always experience from the society where we have our 
origin and our life proceeds from social forces that can 
never be reduced to a mere sum of isolated will-elements. 
But every new impulse in development points to an indi- 
vidual cause. It is an important characteristic of all 
intellectual life that the individual does not remain indi- 
vidual, but becomes universal. The individual will resolves 
itself into the universal will, and again in turn produces out 
of the latter individual minds of creative power. 

Here, again, we have an idea which results directly from a 
consideration of the world-process finding its outcome in 
a religious conception. Religion associates the idea of God 
with that of a guiding spirit whose personal volition is the 
ultimate ground of all psychical development. Of this de- 
velopment the empirical world-process gives us only the 
fragmentary outline, which is not easy to decipher when 
seen in details. In the idea of a transcendent deity religious 
thought thus combines the two elements of will which are 
for ever separated in the phenomenal world. For to the 
religious consciousness God is the creative world-will, which 
means that He is at once individual and social will. 


(a) General Characteristics of Freedom. 

Freedom is the capacity of any being to be determined 
in its action by a reflective choice between different motives. 
Absence of freedom may be either external or internal ; in 
the former case it consists in the constraint which external 
forces exert on motives ; in the latter case it means absence 
of reflection, where motives are insufficiently developed, 
either because they are temporarily inhibited in the agent's 

3 8 The Moral Will [462-3 

consciousness, or because his mind is permanently deficient 
in a normal capacity for motivation. 

The mere existence of psychical activities as inner motives 
is thus an insufficient criterion of freedom. The dreamer 
and the madman are not free, though they follow motives 
of which they are conscious. In like manner no purely 
impulsive action is free ; the single determining motive has 
a force of absolute constraint, because no other motives 
exist which could produce a different action. To be free, 
an action must be voluntary. Even this, however, is not 
enough ; an insane person may balance motives one against 
another, and proceed with thoughtful circumspection, yet 
we do not call his decisions free. Our criterion of free 
action is not choice merely, but free choice ; and we call 
choice free when it takes place with reflective self-conscious- 
ness. What distinguishes the latter from simple self- 
consciousness is the fact that it involves a consciousness 
of one's own personality together with all those characteristics 
which result from the past development of the will. To 
reflect concerning oneself means to be conscious of one's 
personality as determined by previous volitional develop- 
ment ; and to act with reflection is to act with a conscious- 
ness of the significance which the motives and purposes 
of the action have for the character of the agent. The man 
who dreams or is insane may act not only voluntarily but 
self-consciously, since he is conscious of his own Ego. He 
cannot, however, act with reflection, for either he has lost 
the power of reflecting on his personality as conditioned by 
his previous mental history, or his personality has been 
altered by disturbing influences. 

463-4] The Freedom of the Will 39 

(b) The Causality of Will. 

It is evident, from our definition of free action, that such 
action involves psychical causality. Freedom does not consist 
in the absence of efficient causes, but in the absence of causes 
whose nature is such that they suppress psychical causality, 
wholly or in part. Moreover, the causality of will resembles 
other forms of the causal relation in leading to an infinite 
series. Hence we do not mitigate the error of converting 
the true antithesis between freedom and constraint into the 
false one between freedom and causality when we follow 
Kant's theory of the intelligible character, and, while referring 
the voluntary act itself to psychical causality, ascribe the latter 
to an uncaused essence of personality. This conception, 
which merely puts the interruption of causality one step 
further back, does not commend itself, even to our practical 
judgment, any more than the other view, according to which 
the breaking of the causal chain comes with the act. When- 
ever we judge, we take into consideration the agent's whole 
previous history just as much as the motives that imme- 
diately determined him. Nor can appeal be made in this 
controversy to the consciousness of freedom ; it tells us that 
we act without constraint, but never that we act without 
cause, or that the motives which determine us are indepen- 
dent of our natural dispositions and the circumstances of 
our lives. 

Thus we see that the whole controversy about the causality 
of will would be practically unthinkable if both sides were 
not influenced by a misunderstanding that makes them 
take constraint and causality for equivalent terms. This 
misunderstanding consists in the substitution of mechanical 
for psychical causality. It is a fact of great moment for 
modern theories of will that Kant, whose influence is still 
strongest on this question, wholly ignored the fundamental 

40 The Moral Will [464 

difference between psychical and naturalistic causation, using, 
as he did, mechanical causality synonymously with causality 
at large. Now the concept of matter which governs natural 
philosophy gives to the notion of cause as applied to nature 
a peculiar character that is foreign to its more universal 
logical significance. For the principle of constancy, inti- 
mately connected with the idea of matter, involves certain 
laws which govern all cases of natural causality, and may 
really be regarded as corollaries of the law of causation in 
this realm. For example, there are the laws of conservation, 
in accordance with which the principle of the constancy of 
matter is manifested in the processes of nature; and, most 
important of all, there is the principle of the equivalence 
of cause and effect. 

Now the notion of material substance, which is an aid to 
our knowledge of natural processes, has no meaning what- 
ever when we come to consider the activities of knowledge 
and will. But if we insist on transferring the concepts of 
energy and force into the psychical realm, all the empirical 
facts of individual psychical development teach us that the 
fundamental law here is the direct opposite of the principle 
of equivalence. It is the law of increasing psychical energy ; 
and it means, in its application to the will, that while the 
effects of voluntary acts are always determined by definite 
psychical causes, they are not already contained in such 
causes. We really assume this position whenever we pass 
judgment on the consequences of volition, a fact that is 
especially evident when we are dealing with the higher 
order of intellectual creations. No one would hesitate to 
explain a poetical work by referring to the conditions under 
which the poet lives, thinks, and has developed. On the 
other hand, no one would defend the absurd supposition that 
the final result of intellectual activity in such a case is the 
quantitative equivalent of these conditions ; as, for example, 

464-5] The Freedom of the Will 41 

the effect produced by a falling ball is equivalent to the 
work done in raising it. 

It follows that while we can get a tolerably sufficient 
causal explanation for events in the psychical realm when 
we argue backwards, i.e. with reference to that portion of 
the causal series already traversed, we can never argue 
forwards. Under favourable conditions we can predict 
natural events with certainty. But in the case of psychical 
events the most we can do is to indicate the general direction, 
not the specific form, of the result. There is a psychical 
history of the past, but no sure prophecy of the future ; 
and so far every attempt at a historical philosophy that 
has presumed to foretell coming events has gone astray. 
Laplace's fiction of a world - formula is inapplicable to 
psychical processes not only because it is shattered by the 
incalculable complexity of events, but because it is itself in 
contradiction with the laws of psychical processes. 

(c) Indeterminism and Determinism. 

The ordinary view confuses this impossibility of foreseeing 
events with a denial of their causation. Because no one can 
foresee the form that psychical causality will take in a given 
case, it supposes such causality to be non-existent ; and 
since vulgar determinism and vulgar indeterminism are alike 
in their erroneous substitution of naturalistic for psychical 
causality, it is not surprising that they should be more 
nearly alike than they realise in their outcome. For ordinary 
determinism, assuming the whole burden of proving the 
existence of an unbroken chain of natural causation, makes 
the more remote causes of volition to consist in physical 
brain processes, which, by reason of their dependence on the 
general course of nature, are completely determined. Now 
only the last of these processes is accompanied by con- 

42 The Moral Will [465-6 

scious activity introspectively perceived: motor excitation 
and volitional impulse coincide. The train of psychological 
causation is followed no further, and from this point of 
view every act of will is causa sui. Thus the physiological 
determinist is a psychological indeterminist. On the other 
hand, ordinary indeterminism, in its efforts to do justice 
to the claims of natural causality, is generally quite willing 
to allow with Kant that there are two ways of regarding 
the external act of will : as a physical process subject to the 
sway of natural causality ; and as an internal volition, free 
from such causality, or determined only by the intelligible 
character, which is not affected by the category of cause. 
Where is the difference, aside from the fact that the one party 
lays stress on the physiological, the other on the psychological 
aspect of the process? Really, it seems quite superfluous 
for these opponents to get angry with each other ; they might 
clasp hands in token of reconciliation. They are perfectly 
agreed in their mistaken limitation of the concept of cause 
to its naturalistic sense, and in their ignoring of the psycho- 
logical causation of will. Hence they come to the same 
conclusion : they give up trying to find a scientific ex- 
planation. For the fanciful suppositions maintained by 
physiological determinism, concerning a mechanics of brain 
molecules ultimately deducible from the general course of 
nature, can hardly be taken seriously in lieu of such an 
explanation. Instead of following the easy path of psycho- 
logical investigation, these theorists rest satisfied with 
referring to an imaginary science of the future, whose very 
nature precludes the possibility of its ever becoming actual. 
For we are mistaken if we suppose that the idea of infinity 
is involved only in discussions about the ultimate bounds 
of space, time and causality in the universe. It comes into 
play whenever the course of nature produces an event that 
embodies in concrete form conditions whose separate in- 

466-7] The Freedom of the Will 43 

vestigation would necessitate insight into the whole endless 
process of nature. To attempt to regard the mechanics of 
the human brain after the fashion of a simple astronomical 
problem is thus an undertaking that has about as much 
prospect of success as a plan to determine the total weight 
of all the bodies in the world, or the centre of gravity of 
the universe. It is the more fantastic to abandon psycho- 
logical investigation in order to lose oneself in the infinities 
of natural causality, because in so doing one forsakes for an 
illusory hope one's best chance of getting at the conditions 
of organic life. There is no doubt that impulsive and 
voluntary actions, which are directly influenced by definite 
psychical motives, are of the greatest importance in the 
development of the various forms of life. 1 

But here a metaphysical difficulty arises, which must be 
discussed in order to dispose of all obscurities on the subject. 
If physical and psychical causality differ so essentially, how 
shall we explain, not only the parallelism of the two in all 
the sensational activities of mind, but their apparent inter- 
ference ? Physical causality seems to interfere with psychical 
throughout our ideational life, with its dependence on 
external impressions ; psychical with physical causality in 
voluntary acts, and in all the temporary or permanent 
changes which they bring about in the outer world. It is 
evident that the practical philosophy of life will always 
hold to the dualistic view ; and that even science, to avoid 
prolixity, must occasionally use the terms of everyday life, 
as the astronomer speaks of sunrise with no intention of 
being false to the Copernican system. But since the banish- 
ment of ordinary dualism from metaphysics is far from being 
as final as that of the Ptolemaic theory from astronomy, 
it becomes necessary to explain briefly what metaphysical 
significance is to be attached to the words ' reciprocal action,' 
1 Cf. on this point my Logik, ii., pp. 449, 471. 

44 The Moral Will [467-8 

as they have been or will be applied to the relation between 
the physical and the psychical realms. 1 

(d) Psychical and Mechanical Causality. 

External nature is a constituent part of our consciousness. 
We are impelled by motives that belong to our immediate 
inner experience, first to separate out ideas from the total 
content of psychical life, and then to distinguish these as 
objects and images of objects. Finally, our idea of the 
external world as a whole is that of the sum total of objects. 
It therefore belongs to our inner experience just as much as 
any single object does, and has no reality apart from that 
experience. For all the elements that condition the separa- 
tion between inner and outer experience are themselves 
nothing but psychical acts, — facts of our consciousness. When 
I represent to myself an object, I have merely made a dis- 
tinction in my own consciousness ; the external object does 
not cease to be an immediate inner experience, and the idea 
of its externality is itself one of my ideas. In like manner 
we must include in our psychical experience all processes by 
which objects are worked over in conceptual thought, as it 
accompanies even the simple representation of the object, is 
further involved in expressing the results of our common 
experience concerning the coherence of things, or finally 
manifests itself in the concepts of science. 

Into our experience, as thus constituted, scientific thought 
introduces an important new element when it seeks to satisfy 

1 It has been my frequent and unfortunate experience to have my expressions 
misunderstood, in the sense above indicated, by philosophers and physiologists, 
despite my express declarations in decisive passages {e.g. Physiol. Psych., 4th 
ed., ii., pp. 636 ff.; Logik, i., p. 486. I will therefore state once for all that 
I do not believe in the Cartesian influxus physicus, and that whenever I speak of 
the effect of psychical activities on the body or vice versd, the terms are to be 
understood in the sense which I shall proceed to explain. 

468-9] The Freedom of the Will 45 

the demand of our reason for unity by the logical postulate that 
all experience may be included in a single self-consistent whole. 
It is evident that the influence of this postulate will be most 
marked on those facts which lend themselves to it with the 
greatest readiness ; and we have already seen that such a class 
of facts is constituted by the ideas that we call objects of the 
external world. The constancy of these objects and the 
regularity of their relations to each other have long since 
given rise to certain systems of concepts which prove that in 
some departments of nature the postulate of a self-consistent 
unity, formed in accordance with thought laws, is undoubtedly 
realisable, and that in still other fields there is at least a 
possibility of fulfilling it. In consequence, our experience 
of the constancy of objects has crystallised into the notion 
of matter as an absolutely permanent substrate of phe- 
nomena. It is a concept purely hypothetical in character, 
but it has proved very useful in the establishment of further 
principles ; and it is, in particular, the foundation of all those 
laws of constancy referred to above as giving to natural 
causality its peculiar features. Now if we remember that 
the principle of causality is merely the application of this 
logical postulate of a self-consistent unity to any kind of 
empirical content, that is, to all possible phenomena of con- 
sciousness, it will become evident that the laws of constancy 
must originate not from the nature of causality itself, but 
from the special conditions of one particular realm of ex- 
perience. In the case of all other psychical activities, where 
there is no such reference to permanent objects, we must 
indeed postulate a causal relation, since otherwise we cannot 
think at all ; but we shall have no occasion for any of those 
special principles which are derived from a hypothetical 
material substance. 

The notion of a permanent substance, appertaining to those 
ideas which we call objects, involves the further supposition 

46 The Moral Will [469-70 

that the series of natural causes and effects is sufficient to 
itself. All the reasons for assuming the existence of matter 
may be reduced to one, namely, the necessity of regarding 
it as the universal substrate of all natural causality and of 
referring all natural processes to the objective interaction of 
its parts. Evidently the whole theory would be shattered if 
we were to suppose the existence of other substrata besides 
matter, with the power to interfere with natural causality. 
Either such substrata are material, — which leaves us where 
we started; or they are not material, — in which case 
our concept of matter is illusory, since it is not really 
the universal substrate of natural causality. Besides this 
dilemma for natural philosophy, a deeper and purely meta- 
physical contradiction is involved. Matter is a hypothetical 
conception which we ourselves, impelled on the one hand 
by the relative constancy of objects, and on the other by the 
logical demands of thought, have manufactured. To sup- 
pose that this hypothetical substrate which we have con- 
structed for certain of our ideas can exert any influence on 
our other ideas or on our thought in generator that psychical 
activities as such could ever operate upon it, is perfectly 
absurd. It is a supposition that could arise only as a result 
of first transforming a product of conceptual thought into 
a being independent of thought, and then, to complete the 
absurdity, regarding mental activity itself as an existence 
of like nature with its own product. A notion of this sort 
necessarily involves all the contradictions that were ever 
ranged side by side in human thought. The soul is sup- 
posed to be immaterial, and yet to influence and be influenced 
by matter as if it were material. It is in its own nature 
persistent, and yet in all the phenomena which are its sole 
manifestation to us, it shows the utmost variability. It is 
simple, and yet possesses an infinitely manifold content. 
This self-contradictory conception of an immaterial matter, 

47°] The Freedom of the Will 47 

a substance lacking in permanence, an infinitely divisible 
atom, can be regarded only as a metaphysical superfluity, 
which perplexes rather than facilitates our understanding of 
psychical life. 

Our own body is among the ideas that we call objects. 
It is that object which, by reason of the regular correspond- 
ence between its changes and those of other objects, we 
regard as the substrate of all our ideas. This view, also, 
is merely a causal construction of our thought, very early in 
its origin, though developed in full detail only under the 
influence of science. Like other material objects, our body 
is affected by other bodies, and affects them in turn. Some 
of these changes which take place in our bodies we think of 
as material processes accompanying our ideas ; others as 
processes which run parallel to our volitional activities. But 
all of them must, of course, be subjected to the laws of the 
constancy of matter and energy, since these laws are essential 
to the notion of a permanent substrate for material things. 
And so we are led of necessity to suppose a parallelism, 
extending throughout the whole objective region of our 
consciousness, between ideas and the corresponding move- 
ments that take place in the hypothetical substrate of ideas, 
matter. According to this view, objects become our ideas 
when our body takes part in the interactions of this sub- 
strate. The parallelism is not, however, as Spinoza sup- 
posed, a parallelism between two infinite realities independent 
of each other. There is but one reality in question ; and this, 
when we regard it as it is immediately given to us, appears 
under the form of ideas ; when we consider it in the light of 
its conceptual transformation, is a series of movements in 
matter. But the objects of the external world form only 
a part of our psychical life. Their intellectual relations, like 
the emotional reactions of consciousness, cannot be classed 
as objects. Hence it is merely the outward sensational part 

48 The Moral Will [470-1 

of psychical life that finds its substrate in particular material 
processes. And thus we see that for such processes, which 
we conceive under a twofold aspect, immediately as sensations 
and mediately as material processes, we must have a twofold 
causality. As representations, the sensational elements of 
consciousness share in its psychological causality ; as material 
movements, they belong to the causality of external nature. 
The two forms of causality bear the same relation to each 
other as their corresponding substrates. Psychical causality 
is the immediate form, given directly as that of motives and 
purposes in thought ; it involves no hypothesis beyond the 
immediate fact as it exists in thought. Mechanical causality 
is the mediate form : while it originates through the content 
of certain ideas immediately given, these are merely the 
occasions for the application of conceptual constructions 
whose basis is wholly hypothetical, dependent on the postu- 
late of a self-consistent unity among all ideas relating to 

It is a self-evident consequence alike of the extraordinarily 
contracted horizon of our experience and of the limited powers 
of our intellect that we should be unable to get more than 
a very narrow conception both of internal and of external 
causality ; whether our effort is to comprehend the former 
immediately or to trace out the latter with the aid of 
hypotheses bearing on the exact analysis of experience. 
Nevertheless, the logical character of the concept of cause 
requires us to postulate both the complete causal determina- 
tion of all psychical acts, and the impenetrable coherence 
of all natural processes under the rule of mechanical causality. 
These postulates are regulative ideas ; they warn us to trace 
back every event as far as possible within its own peculiar 
form of causality, and never to admit the hypothesis of 
an uncaused event. But since both causal series extend 
to infinity, the ideas in question do not suggest the slightest 

471-2] The Freedom of the Will 49 

prospect of an actual fulfilment of their postulates. Human 
thought, however far it may reach, must always remain in the 
realm of the finite, infinitely removed from its ultimate goal. 
While these two ideas both indicate an infinite regressus, 
they refer to infinities of different orders. Mechanical 
causality, associated with a permanent material substance, 
is, if we assume an universe finite in extent or a sufficiently 
isolated portion of an infinite universe, a causal series that 
is indeed inexhaustible by actual measurement, but not, 
strictly speaking, infinite. In this realm the world-formula 
of Laplace, though a fiction, is yet indicative of the direction 
in which the exact investigation of nature proceeds. Psychical 
causality, on the other hand, is an inexhaustible process, 
ever bringing forth new psychical products. Even supposing 
that the sum of ideas possible to the finite human mind, 
inclosed within definite bounds of time and space, were 
in any way limited, yet the sum of intellectual processes 
for which these ideas might furnish the sensuous material 
would remain infinite. And granting complete knowledge 
of the previous course of events in the world, that principle 
of increasing energy which we can trace in all processes of 
psychical development would render for ever impossible every 
prophecy regarding future creations. Applied to the mental 
realm, Laplace's world-formula is not an unattainable ideal, 
but a false analogy. The fact that the infinity of mechanical 
causality is of a lower order than that of psychical causality 
is evidence that the two series are not independent, parallel 
in their course while entirely disparate in character ; but that 
the mechanism of nature is really only a part of the whole 
complex of psychical causality. It consists of a series of 
concepts connecting, in accordance with the general principle 
of reason and consequence, all those ideas which we term 
objects. The idea of the external world, together with all 
the conceptions relating to it, is contained in the whole 

50 The Moral Will [472-3 

causal complex of our psychical processes. It is a product 
of our thought, developed under the special conditions that 
govern objective ideas. 

No error on the part of the makers of scientific systems 
is more widely diffused than that which treats the regulative 
ideas requiring that rational thought shall proceed to infinity 
within each causal series, in accordance with the special 
principles of that series, as constitutive principles of our 
knowledge. This error appears in an intellectualistic and 
in a materialistic form. Of the two, the former has the 
more warrant, for the regulative idea from which it starts 
really does take in the whole content of our knowledge, 
the external world included. But intellectualism claims the 
power of extending to infinity the limited range of psychical 
causality that is accessible to the individual mind. Con- 
sequently everything is regarded sub specie individualitalis, 
and we often find some special form of psychical causality, 
like that of logical reasoning or of the motivation of will, 
made to cover the whole world of ideas. Still more un- 
tenable is the position of materialism. For it makes the 
idea of a causal connection between objects, an idea that 
originates in the needs of rational thought and hence is 
based on psychical causality, equivalent to causality at large. 
Such a theory, even if we grant the possibility of trans- 
forming the regulative idea of the universal mechanical 
coherence of nature into a concept whose whole content 
is fully known, would eliminate psychical life altogether ; or 
at most, if the series of psychical phenomena is supposed 
to be given together with the parallel series of material brain 
processes, would transform it into a mere phantasmagoria, 
wholly lacking in the coherence that is produced by thought. 
The only remaining alternative is to regard the notion of 
an all-embracing psychical causality, which includes our con- 
cepts relating to the external world, as an ultimate regulative 

473-4] The Freedom of the Will 5 1 

idea. Two postulates for use in empirical investigations 
result from this idea. The first is that all psychical processes, 
so far as possible, should be brought under the laws of 
psychical causality as immediately given to us. The second 
is that the whole system of our ideas of the external world 
should be governed by the laws of a specific kind of causality 
originating from logical principles, and therefore psychical 
in character, but based on the relation of these principles 
to an absolutely permanent substrate, which can undergo 
no change save that of position in our intuitional space. 
Mechanical causality is thus a subordinate form of psychical 
causality. But in the case of all empirical relations, where 
psychical processes may be regarded from an external as well 
as an internal point of view, these processes may either 
be assigned to the complex of psychical events by virtue 
of their immediate characteristics, or may be ranked within 
the causal nexus of mechanical processes by virtue of their 
external sensible aspect. It is evident that convenience will 
indicate now the physiological and now the psychological 
view to be preferable. Thus psychology will sometimes 
have to refer to a physiological explanation, hence to one 
whose nature is ultimately mechanical; while physiology may 
occasionally have recourse to psychological theories. For 
instance, it is possible to make use of the physiological 
conditions of brain mechanics when we are discussing the 
ordinary association of ideas, and while it is true that they 
do not give us a complete explanation of the process, 
they make it somewhat easier to understand. 1 In like manner 
certain physiological facts show traces of psychological causa- 
tion, while if we attempt to explain them mechanically we 
have no available means at our disposal, save the regulative 
idea that all physical effects do ultimately result from 
mechanical conditions. Thus the objective adaptation of 

1 Cf. my Grundzuge d. physiol. Psych., 4th ed., ii., p. 473. 

52 The Moral Will [474-5 

organic nature may be partly accounted for by supposing, 
what can be directly observed in animals, that the de- 
velopment of organic forms is influenced by the voluntary 
acts of living beings ; whereas our power of explaining by 
mechanical causality most of these forms, especially those 
which occur among the higher animals, will probably be 
always very limited. 1 

Turning now, in the light of the principles discussed, to the 
consideration of volitions, we need have no hesitation as to 
which kind of empirical causality we should use. So far as 
volitions involve material processes, nerve excitations and 
muscular contractions, we must of course postulate a place 
for them in the complex of mechanical causality. But it is 
only as a regulative idea that the postulate of mechanical 
causality functions here, for as soon as we go beyond the 
most immediate conditions of the external act, the mechanical 
causality of bodily movements is lost in an infinite regressus 
that takes in the whole history of living beings. Even if it 
were possible to follow out this regressus, we should get 
nothing but a sum of mechanical processes, which would 
furnish no means of determining whether an action were 
voluntary or involuntary, preceded by various motives or by 
one only, etc. In a word, the only part of the causal con- 
ditions of will open to our investigation would be the part 
that has to do with those ideas accompanying the voluntary 
act which refer to a permanent objective substrate. When 
we are dealing with volitions, then psychological causality is 
the only kind involved, for it is the kind that makes the will 
truly will. Now, like all processes of subsumption under con- 
ditions, whether they relate to internal or to external causes, 
psychological causality leads to an infinite series. The will, 
however, comes under those forms of individual psychical 

1 Cf. on this point Logik, i.,p. 580, ii., pp. 439 ff; and System d. Philosophic \ 
2nd ed., pp. 492 ff. 

475-6] The Freedom of the Will 53 

causality whose course we can trace to a fairly adequate ex- 
tent. Not only are its immediate causes given under the guise 
of motives, but we can explain the origin of these motives 
and their various degrees of efficacy from the earlier condi- 
tions of individual development, and even in some measure 
from the conditions of universal psychical development. 
Thus the point of view from which we shall regard the will 
is that of determinism. Not determinism in the mistaken 
sense of applying the naturalistic concept of cause to the 
will and undertaking to predict the action from its conditions, 
but in the sense of maintaining the absolute sway of psychical 
causality and explaining events that have actually occurred 
by referring them to their causes. Without a psychological 
determinism of this sort there can be no psychology, no 
science of mind whatever. To reject it is to come into 
conflict with that law of our reason which requires us to seek 
the conditions for all that is conditioned, and to regard them 
when found as in turn conditioned. 

But even if indeterminism could be harmonised with the 
requirements of psychology and logic, it would be objection- 
able on ethical and religious grounds. As a matter of fact, 
only the cold-blooded egoism of an age for which the moral 
order was a convenient arrangement for the benefit of the 
individual, and religion a guide-post to his future happiness, 
could really maintain that the salvation of morality and 
religion depended on absolutely freeing the individual will 
from causality. 

It is said that men may be known by the fruits of their 
actions. On the other hand, much light is thrown on the 
true nature of a theory, at least of a philosophical theory, 
by the character of its partisans. Two philosophical schools 
have helped to build up the indeterminism that prevails at 
present in popular metaphysics : the scholastic nominalism 
of the fourteenth and fifteenth, and the theological utili- 

54 The Moral Will [476 

tarianism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 
opposition to the doctrine of predestination championed by 
Augustine and Luther from motives of a profoundly religious 
nature, the Nominalists stood for absolute indeterminism. 
They applied this notion to God as well as to man, and thus 
regarded the sanctity of the moral law as residing not in its 
own nature, but in its origin from the divine command ; a 
position which offered a convenient excuse for placing certain 
outward forms that happened to suit the purpose of the 
Church on an equality with the moral law. The practice of 
granting indulgences was a sufficient indication of the moral 
value of this system. The theological utilitarianism of the 
succeeding centuries was less extreme ; but the barren 
rationalism of its theology and the gross egoism of its ethics 
were well adapted to drive the profounder thinkers of the 
time into freethought or mysticism. The Kantian ethics 
has a moral earnestness about it that makes it far superior 
to this vulgar indeterminism, with its poverty of thought. 
Kant, however, was still under the spell of the naturalistic 
conception of cause. Recognising that this notion was in- 
applicable to the realm of morals, he distinguished reason, 
as the faculty of seeking conditions for the conditioned, from 
the understanding as applied to causes ; though the latter 
is really only a mode of exercising the former faculty. He 
thus reached the wholly untenable position that human 
beings are to be regarded under a twofold aspect : that while 
their actions, which belong to the phenomenal world, are 
subject to natural causality, as intelligible characters they 
are perfectly free with reference to the same actions. This 
union of contradictions, which was entrenched behind the 
antithesis of the phenomenal and intelligible worlds, found 
its appropriate climax in the remarkable doctrine that the 
intelligible itself becomes phenomenal in the will. 

The distinguishing mark of moral responsibility is the 

476-7] The Freedom of the Will 55 

causality of character. A man's action is free in the moral 
sense when it results wholly from inner causality, which is 
conditioned partly by his original disposition and partly by 
the way in which his character has developed. If his act is 
not determined by the inner causality of his whole psychical 
history, rather than by the motive of the moment, he is not 
free, but the plaything of whatever impulses are excited by 
the motives that chance to be in consciousness at the time. 
Really, the opposite of freedom and responsibility is not 
inner determination, but the so-called liberum arbitrium. 
For indeterminism itself acknowledges that actions cannot 
take place without a motive. Hence, unless the causality of 
character be the deciding influence, we are left to absolute 
chance ; that is, to the guidance of whatever motive happens 
to be uppermost in the mind. And we are to believe that 
the moral order, as it is phenomenally revealed to humanity, 
is made up of such accidental impulses. That such a view 
should be regarded as not only moral but religious is an 
error possible only to an age abandoned to ethical egoism 
and religious indifferentism, or completely misled by theoreti- 
cal prejudices. An hekastotheism of this sort, where every 
individual looks upon himself as a god, has precisely the 
same claim to be called a religion that egoism has to be 
called a system of ethics. 

(e) The Causality of Character. 

It is certainly a curious fact that discussions on the subject 
of causality should wax fiercest with regard to the very 
phenomenon that furnishes the most conclusive instance of 
psychical causality, a phenomenon whose series of causal 
conditions lies open to our investigation with a completeness 
found elsewhere only in the simplest cases of natural caus- 
ality. Moreover, it is characteristic of the will that our 

56 The Moral Will [477-8 

insight into the series of conditions is most complete in the 
case of complex rather than of simple volitions. When we 
have to do with a simple impulse we cannot go behind the 
motive immediately present to consciousness ; the more 
remote causes are lost in the obscurity of individual tempera- 
ment. But the conditions of a voluntary act, which takes 
place with forethought and deliberation, may under some 
circumstances be traced back into the agent's earliest history ; 
sometimes, indeed, we can get at the remoter influences of 
inherited family or racial traits. The fact that so many con- 
ditions, more or less clearly traceable, co-operate to produce 
the voluntary act occasions the necessity of comprehending 
in a single concept the total disposition of the individual 
as it exists at a given moment, the product of all previous 
causes, and an influence encountered by each new motive that 
enters the field. Such a concept is that of character. What 
we understand by character is thus the total result of past 
psychical causality, itself forming part of the cause of each 
new effect. In accordance with this view we may divide the 
causes of every self-conscious volition into two groups : 
transitory causes, given under the form of definite and actual 
motives, and permanent causes, the totality of which is 
represented by the causality of character. Indeterminism 
itself has not infrequently recognised such a distinction, and 
has thought to reconcile itself with the doctrine of the 
causality of will by holding that the character itself, and not 
the single volition which proceeds from the character under 
the influence of motives, is causa sui. This view, of course 
brings us back to Kant's theory of the intelligible character. 
Unfortunately the latter concept has about as much connec- 
tion with that of the empirical character, which is what we are 
dealing with here, as the thing in itself has with the objects 
of the external world. The two bear the same name, but 
they have nothing else in common. The intelligible character 

478-9] The Freedom of the Will 5 7 

is uncaused ; the empirical character is the effect of a sum of 
causal conditions, and itself forms part of the cause of every 
action. As the conditions that determine character become 
more constant, and crystallise into the fixed moral tendencies 
of the individual's disposition, we are able not only to deduce 
actions from character after the fact, but to predict from our 
knowledge of a man's character the way in which he will 
react to given motives. Thus we see that in this highest 
form psychical causality approaches the invariable regularity 
of the mechanism of nature. 

Such a degree of constancy, of course, belongs only to 
the fully developed character, which is no longer subject to 
important changes. Strictly speaking, indeed, absolute regu- 
larity of character is a mere ideal, to which reality can never 
correspond. This ideal constitutes the intelligible character 
in its true sense ; it is the regulative idea in accordance with 
which we pass judgment on the wills of others and form our 
own wills. The empirical character, on the other hand, is 
involved in the ceaseless flux of psychical development. Its 
germ lies hid in the earliest tendencies of the individual 
consciousness, an inheritance from our ancestors, unfolding 
in the individual life, and destined to be transferred, enriched 
with new tendencies, to future generations. Its development 
is at first brought about by external influences, by education, 
and the other experiences of life. We soon find, however, 
that the most important factor in the process is the exercise 
of will. Every act of will leaves behind it a permanent 
disposition to similar acts. Thus the individual tendencies 
of the will are formed ; and the less the results of the exercise 
of will are interfered with by sources of variation in special 
cases, the more fixed and definite is the stamp which they 
leave on the character. In this way, while external education 
begins the process of character-building, self-education com- 
pletes it. 

58 The Moral Will [479-80 

But the individual will is contained in a social will. And 
this social will, again, comprises various gradations, dependent 
on the spread of common ideas and endeavours. It follows 
that the tendencies of the individual will are subordinate to 
those tendencies of a collective will which go to make up the 
character of human societies and organisations. In its 
narrowest form, that of family and racial types, the social 
character finds clearest expression at the lower stages of 
human culture. The manifold interactions involved in a 
higher grade of social development tend to obscure these 
simple manifestations of the social character. They are 
represented less in the character itself than in its earliest 
tendencies, which express the influence of the most primitive 
of all social ties, that of birth. On the other hand, the 
existence of a common history, the spread of a common 
speech, and the intellectual life which is thus rendered 
possible, all contribute to the growing importance of the 
national character. Here the individual consciousness feels 
the sway of tendencies reaching far beyond the sphere of 
its personal relations. It shares in the creation of a social 
will, and the latter, in turn, is an important factor in the 
development of the collective mind of humanity. Thus 
there comes into being the social character of humanity as 
a whole, a creation of will whose earliest stages, even, are not 
to be traced among the original conditions of human society. 
It is, throughout, the product of historical life and intellectual 
culture. As such it has already found expression, at least 
among civilised nations, in many common tendencies based 
on like intellectual and moral ideas. We often hear it said 
that the savage has no character save that of his race and 
tribe, that he lacks individual characteristics ; and the state- 
ment is doubtless true to a certain extent. But we are 
wrong if we suppose it to imply that the process of character- 
development exhausts itself in individualising. Along with 

480-1] Conscience 59 

the ultimate and undeniable decline of the immediate in- 
fluence of family and race there goes a process of opposite 
nature, which consists in the formation of a broader national 
character, and in the final development of a character typical 
of humanity at large. Here, in the absence of all disturbing 
influences arising from conflicts between individuals and 
between nations, we finally reach the expression of those 
tendencies of will which have permanent value for humanity 
as such, apart from the special conditions of time and space. 


(a) The Various Conceptions of Conscience. 

Freedom, in the sense of the determination of will by the 
inner forces of character, is the source of those distinguishing 
features which make our self-judgments so different from the 
judgments we pass on matters independent of ourselves. 
Self-judgment is based on a law essentially voluntary in 
character, whose content we can vary not only in thought, 
but in reality. And for this reason it is directed not only 
towards the outward effects of our actions, but also and 
chiefly towards their causes, the motives that determine them 
and the character that displays susceptibility to those motives. 
But the psychological process whose logical outcome is self- 
judgment is not originally a process of judgment. Before it 
has developed into such a process, it occurs in the form of 
ideas, endowed with a strong affective tone, which are imme- 
diately associated with the emotions of approbation and dis- 
approbation. When these emotions conflict, we may have 
tendencies to opposite self-judgments simultaneously present. 
All these states of mind, so far as they find self-conscious ex- 
pression in a judgment made by the agent on his own motives 
and character, are included under the term conscience. 

60 The Moral Will [481-2 

Evidently the word stands for a concept whose meaning is 
far from being well-defined. It is not even restricted, in the 
first instance, to the moral realm, but is applied wherever 
there is a possibility of self-judgment with its antecedent 
stages. Thus we speak of a logical, sesthetical, political 
conscience, and the like, — notions which do not necessarily 
have anything in common with conscience in the moral 
sense. Still more important is the fact that there is only one 
name for the process in all its stages, from the primitive 
emotion that accompanies one's own acts to the developed 
self-judgment. This lack of definiteness has left its trace on 
ethical theories. Some of them, like those of many theological 
moralists of modern times, make the essence of conscience to 
consist in feeling or impulse ; others, with Kant, in a process 
of internal judgment ; while still others, adopting the theory 
of scholasticism and the school of Wolff, go so far as to call 
it the conclusion of a syllogism, for which the moral law 
supplies the major premise and the concrete act the minor 
premise. All of these theories, save the artificial notion 
of the ' syllogismus practicus,' which is another instance of a 
doctrine that mistakes subsequent reflection on the object 
for the object itself, may be said to be true in some cases 
and false in others, — a natural result of the psychological 
ambiguity of the concept. The single act of conscience may 
be a feeling, an emotion, an impulse or a judgment ; and 
as for conscience in the sense of a faculty distinct from the 
particular acts of the human mind, there is no such thing. 
The concept in its broad sense is merely a generalisation 
from all these particular facts, whose nature varies greatly 
and whose only bond of union is their relation to the motives 
and character of the individual Ego. 

There is another idea which is more unfortunate in its 
influence than the ambiguity residing in the concept of 
conscience, or even than the notion of a specific psychical 

482] Conscience 6 1 

force, which is sometimes associated with the term. It is 
a kind of mythological idea that is involved in the conception 
of conscience. The expressions Gewissen, conscientia, syneidesis 
refer directly to a knowing with someone. 1 We have the 
process of knowing with, conscire, opposed to that of knowing, 
scire, as if it were the activity of a second self. The expression, 
' the voice of conscience,' often used in ethical works even at 
the present time, originates in this same set of mythological 
ideas. The emotion and process of judgment that accompany 
our consciousness of our own motives and tendencies are 
supposed to be not our own psychical acts, but the effects of a 
foreign power, which exerts a mysterious influence on our 
consciousness. There are always in existence some philo- 
sophical tendencies to which this mythological conception 
is welcome ; and so we find it constantly reappearing, with 
little variation from its original form, on the field of ethical 
theory. If the latter regards the moral law as the direct 
command of God, it naturally transforms ' the voice of 
conscience' into the voice of God. In reality the original 
significance of the term conscience, as a knowing with, was 
a knowing with God. For with the idea that the gods can 
see the deeds of men there was early associated the belief 
that they can look into the human heart. Here, as so often, 
we find thought moving in a circle. Man first objectifies his 
own feelings, and then uses the objects thus produced to 
explain those very feelings. 

But even where conscience is no longer regarded in this 
mythological fashion as an activity foreign to the Ego, the 
attempt is made to separate it absolutely from the motives 

1 Gass, Die Lehre vom Gewissen (p. 14), considers it a distinctive feature of the 
German language that its Gewissen means a direct knowing, and not a knowing 
with. But the prefix Ge is fundamentally identical in meaning with con, and 
there is no doubt that the word Gewissen itself, which originated, of course, rather 
in the literature of the learned than in the speech of the people, is a direct trans- 
lation of the Latin conscientia. 

62 The Moral Will [482-3 

and inclinations that determine the act. We find moralists 
supposing the existence of an immediate sense of duty, 
derived, it may be, after the Kantian manner, from the 
intelligible character; and this sense of duty assumes the 
role of a categorical imperative with reference to all other 
motives, supplying the standard whereby these motives and 
the empirical character are tested. This view may be looked 
upon as a philosophical reconstruction of the mythological 
theory of conscience; and it is in its turn objectionable, 
because it involves two assumptions, of which the one 
conflicts with moral experience and the other with the 
psychological nature of man. Historical experience gives us 
no warrant for supposing that duty is always the same, and 
that conscience is therefore exempt from the changes of 
time. True, it furnishes us with a series of facts which go to 
show that men are gradually developing a certain degree of 
final unanimity in their views on moral subjects. But we 
may be equally certain that agreement in such matters will 
ultimately result only after a long course of development. 
Conscience functions at every stage of this evolution : its 
phenomenal forms are many and varied, and only gradually 
does the firm ground of common convictions emerge from 
the shifting contents of commands that have no real moral 
significance. The philosophical theory that makes ' the voice 
of conscience' say the same thing under all circumstances 
is but a revival of that old inversion of the truth which is 
poetically expressed in the myth of the Golden Age. The 
only way in which intuitionism can reconcile itself with the 
actual variability of conscience is by doing the utmost 
violence to the facts. A sufficient argument against it is 
furnished by the single circumstance that there have existed 
whole nations and ages where murder from motives that we 
should consider wholly reprehensible was looked upon not as 
criminal, but as highly praiseworthy. Supposing that con- 

483-4] Conscience 63 

science did furnish us with an absolutely invariable law, 
it might indeed be occasionally obscured by egoistic impulses; 
but what becomes of our supposition, if we find such a law 
wholly lacking in a primitive state of moral cultivation ? A 
franker recognition of the facts is to be found in the religious 
conception that God and the devil are struggling for the 
possession of the human heart. Despite its fantastic and 
mythological form, this theory, expecting as it does the final 
triumph of the good, does take account of the law of develop- 
ment that governs all moral life. On the other hand, that 
philosophy which transforms the voice of God into an un- 
alterable categorical imperative of duty, and assigns the 
equally invariable sensuous impulses to the devil, sacrifices in 
so doing the most precious content of the moral life, namely, 
the possibility of development in moral ideas. Finally, can 
there be any doubt as to which is the greater, and hence 
the more truly moral theory, — the one that raises morality 
above the intellectual life of mankind, and makes it a law 
for ever foreign in its stern unchangeableness to that life, or 
the belief that morality shares in the endless development of 
mind, a process traceable throughout man's psychical life, of 
which morality forms an inalienable part ? 

Further, the theory that conscience is something opposed 
and foreign to the other activities of mind violates not only 
objective, but subjective experience, our whole knowledge 
of man's nature. We know no such thing as a voluntary 
act without feelings and impulses, for these are not pro- 
cesses different in kind from will, but elements of voluntary 
activity itself and separable from it only by abstraction. 
Hence it is impossible for a man to be determined in his 
action or even in his judgments on action by the pure 
command of duty, with no accompanying affective motives. 
Such a view would make the will, as well as conscience, 
an abstract intellectual process, of a sort that can have no 

64 The Moral Will [484-5 

real existence, and that certainly could not co-operate with 
real motives to produce actions. As the will has real 
existence only when combined with affectively toned ideas, 
so conscience cannot be separated from the motives of the 
will : it must be based solely on the relations of different 
motives to one another. There is, however, a characteristic 
peculiar to the realm of moral action, which is immediately 
involved in the fundamental nature of morality, and which 
is shared only by those other departments of thought where 
the conception of a norm or standard has been developed, 
thus giving rise to the broader sense of the term conscience, 
mentioned above. This characteristic is the development of 
imperative motives. 

(b) The Origin of Imperative Motives. 

All motives are impulsive in character. Each one of 
them, acting alone, would be an irresistible impulse ; in 
combination they form impulsive forces, which react upon 
one another, and determine the will in such a way that it 
follows the predominant motives. Imperative motives are 
likewise impulsive, but they have a further property. They 
are associated with the idea that they must be given the 
preference over all purely impulsive motives. Of course, 
imperative motives in turn may conflict with each other; 
under such circumstances there takes place in conscience 
the process that we call a conflict of duties. But the simpler 
and normal function of conscience is to accompany the 
struggle between impulsive and imperative motives with 
peculiar emotions, which tend to strengthen the imperative 
motives, and often render them victorious in cases where 
their feeling-value would be too weak to make them prevail. 
These emotions, which must precede or at least accompany 
the act in order to produce their effect, are generally termed 

485-6] Conscience 65 

prescriptions or promptings of conscience: while the operations 
of conscience after the act are distinguished as the judgments 
of conscience. The function of conscience is essentially- 
different in the latter case, because the emotions produced 
result not from the conflict among motives, but from their 
relation to the consequences of the act. All these aspects 
of conscience, however, follow directly from the existence 
of imperative motives. Hence the real problem of con- 
science does not relate to them, but may be expressed in 
the question : How is the development of imperative motives 
possible ? 

Intuitionism sets out with the assumption that the im- 
peratives of duty are not motives at all. They are supposed 
to consist rather in dictates of a purely intellectual character, 
which are yet capable of influencing the impulsive motives. 
Such a psychological impossibility as this would hardly have 
been propounded had it not been for two reasons. First, 
a purely autonomous origin for these imperatives was 
believed to be impossible. And secondly, the intuitionists 
had in mind such objective principles regarding the content 
of moral action as are to be found in the precepts of religion 
and law. They thus arrived at the odd compromise of 
maintaining that the imperatives are objective norms, which 
yet reach the consciousness of the agent through immediate 
subjective experience. The following proposition is still 
adduced as the final word in this discussion: Principles 
that are unconditionally valid cannot be derived from em- 
pirical motives, which are always conditioned. 

Now in addition to the fact, already discussed, that moral 
ideas are variable, the possibility of a conflict between duties 
proves that unconditional truth exists at no stage of moral 
development. There is no moral law so sacred that it may 
not in special cases have to yield to the superior sacredness 
of the more general functions of morality. Where duties 


66 The Moral Will [486 

thus conflict our choice cannot be determined by any 
a priori principle residing in ourselves. It must be governed 
by that wider conception of the moral life and its problems 
which is to be gained through one's previous intellectual 
development and on the basis of a ripe moral experience. 
Again, nothing could be more unfounded than the supposi- 
tion that any special contrivance is needed to impress men's 
minds with the necessity and universality of certain prin- 
ciples. What principle is there, from the dawn of science 
on, that has not at some time been regarded as uncon- 
ditionally necessary? And how trivial have the grounds 
later appeared, upon which assertions, sometimes of the 
most arbitrary character, have been declared to be apo- 
dictically true ! As a matter of fact, the moral imperatives 
would be in hard case if their certainty had no better basis. 
But if we recognise that the causes which produce human 
convictions are not always of the highest order, we need 
not be surprised to learn that the same thing is true of some 
imperative motives. Nor need we be perplexed even by 
the fact that for the immense majority of mankind these 
lower motives are of the first importance. The worth of 
morality is not endangered because the grounds of its 
realisation in special cases do not always correspond in 
elevation to the moral ideas. On the contrary, it is one 
of the most wonderful things about moral development that 
it unites so many conditions of subordinate value in the 
accomplishment of high results. This is but another ex- 
pression of that principle of the heterogony of ends which 
governs all moral evolution. If, then, we undertake to 
enumerate the conditions that transform impulsive into 
imperative motives, we may group them under four heads : 
external constraint, internal constraint, permanent satisfaction, 
and the conception of an ideal moral life, together with the 
emotions and impulses accompanying such a conception. 

487] Conscience 67 

(c) The Imperatives of Constraint. 

The lowest of these motives is that of external constraint. 
It operates in the form of punishments for immoral actions, 
and of the social disadvantages which such actions involve. 
Even under favourable circumstances it can produce only 
the lowest grade of morality, that of propriety of behaviour 
and conformity to law, — a mere outward appearance, which 
may exist without any real morality behind it, but has yet 
a certain value, since it avoids what is morally offensive. 
We say of a person who is influenced by external constraint 
to refrain from direct violation of the moral law, that he 
has a good reputation. He represents the lowest grade 
of moral character, whose sole virtue is the negative one 
of avoiding immoral actions. 

The second imperative motive, that of internal constraint, 
is usually combined with the first, and leads us a step 
further. It consists in all those influences which are exerted 
by the example of others and the practices and habits of 
our own will, as they are conditioned by education and 
example. On account of its importance for the moral 
order, this kind of constraint is usually spoken of as the 
essentially moral constraint ; but we must not take this 
expression to mean that the constraint itself is moral. It 
is the same kind of constraint that we speak of in many 
cases where we are dealing with matters that have no moral 
significance, — for instance, when we talk about the social 
duties that a man owes to his position, and the like. 
Internal constraint is called moral not because it is itself 
moral, but because along with various kinds of reference 
to others it involves some of a moral nature. Thus its first 
function is to strengthen the negative effects of external 
constraint. It is, however, notably superior to the latter, 
in that it implies a tendency towards positive morality. 

68 The Moral Will [487-8 

Beneficence, efforts to secure the public good, fidelity to 
professional and family duties, may be developed by the 
mere influence of example and habit, as well as by the 
desire to emulate others, in so high a degree that the 
apparent virtue resulting cannot be distinguished from real 
virtue in the ordinary walks of life. We may predicate 
of the character that acts under all conditions from the 
imperative motive of internal constraint the quality of 
respectability, and the term, when extended from special 
cases to the whole conduct of life, means something far 
beyond mere decorum of behaviour. 

(d) The Imperatives of Freedom. 

Constraint in its two forms can do no more than produce 
the outward symptoms of morality; or at best a feeling of 
repugnance, the product of habit, towards what is immoral. 
A morality with no better basis than this will always suffer 
wreck when the decisive test comes ; and it is one of the 
saddest experiences of human life to see decent and 
respectable characters driven by what seems mere accident 
from their previous course of life, and to be obliged to 
acknowledge that but for this evil chance they would 
probably have finished their lives with honour. When a 
character withstands such dangers as these, its power of 
resistance is never derived from the imperative motives of 
constraint alone. Other motives are demanded ; and these, 
since they are wholly independent of external influences, 
and have their source in the agent's own consciousness, we 
shall call the imperatives of freedom. 

The first of them is the motive of permanent satisfaction. 
We find the element of permanence emphasised by Socrates, 
who, here as elsewhere, is simply the interpreter of a senti- 
ment widely diffused among the profounder thinkers on 

488-9] Conscience 69 

moral questions. 1 The problem as to the origin of this 
distinction he did not, of course, investigate, and hence he 
represents that stage of moral development which is but one 
remove above the influences of constraint. The fact that 
certain actions do give more lasting satisfaction than others 
is recognised as an imperative motive for their preference, 
but the why of this preference is not discussed. And since 
its grounds do not form part of the immediate content of 
conscience, we must ourselves postpone consideration of them 
until we come to our general investigation of the motives 
of morality. Here we are concerned only with their result, 
namely, that in general the actions that give permanent 
satisfaction are unselfish actions. The imperative of free 
preference and the imperatives of constraint are in agree- 
ment here ; hence they tend to intensify one another, 
especially since resistance to the motives of constraint in- 
creases the unpleasant feelings that interfere with satisfaction. 
This is why constraint is so important as an educational 
means to the production of free morality. The character 
that has the latter developed into the instinctive form, where 
the right thing is done without inquiry into its grounds, may 
be called righteous. The righteous man, doing right for its 
own sake, withstands temptations to which the man whose 
only thought is to preserve his outward respectability falls 
an easy victim. Since, however, he takes no account of the 
ultimate end of his action, he is easily led to waver between 
conflicting duties and to follow chance impulses, which may 
result in a victory for the less worthy cause. 

And so the processes of conscience find their completion 
in the last of the imperative motives, that of a moral ideal 
of life. Here one supreme life-purpose is the guide of each 
and every action. This supreme purpose becomes a motive 
for the individual consciousness, when the individual com- 
1 Cf. Part. II., chap, i., pp. 5, 6. 

jo The Moral Will [489-90 

prehends the universal ends of moral development under 
his own temporal and spatial conditions, and looks upon 
them as the ends of his own personal life. Thus the ideal 
as individual, as determining the tendencies of the individual 
existence, necessarily assumes whatever special form the 
ideal of universal humanity takes on, with reference to 
definite limits of time and the external circumstances of 
life, and to the particular sphere of operation that belongs 
to the individual moral personality. For the ideal of the 
whole is not something completed, something given once 
for all ; it is always in process of becoming, and never 
finished. The consciousness of every age comprehends it 
in certain ends, motives and laws. The true value of these 
last, however, consists not in their absolute, but in their 
relative permanence; in the fact that they really share in 
the general process of development, whose coherence is 
demonstrated by the steadily increasing perfection of moral 
ideas. It is not until this final stage is reached, when ideal 
motives rule, that we get clearly conscious morality. Con- 
science now regards the motives of constraint as morally 
indifferent : at a crisis it may even decide to disregard them 
altogether, recognising that there are turning-points in moral 
development where that which has hitherto been right and 
moral becomes the very opposite. The instinctive perform- 
ance of right actions has now given place to a righteousness 
enlightened by knowledge of the moral end, and reference to 
this end serves to decide all conflicts between duties. 

Evidently, this final form of the moral character is oftener 
to be met with in imperfect approximations than in anything 
like ideal perfection. Such approximations are what we call 
noble characters. Like everything that approaches even 
remotely to perfection in a personal form, they are rare 
exceptions, arising out of the dead level of respectability 
and integrity which goes to make up common morality. 

49°- 1 ] Conscience 7 1 

They are the true intellectual aristocracy, towering far above 
those morally mediocre natures to whom the term is often 
falsely applied, and whose only distinction is an unusual 
degree of mental cultivation. But supreme in this aristocracy 
of morals, as the sun among the planets, shines the ideal 
character, the moral genius, infinitely rarer than any other 
form that genius takes, and brought forth by the spirit of 
history perhaps once in hundreds or thousands of years. 
While the great sum of moral forces works for the present, 
or at most for the immediate future, the ideal character 
seems to embody the whole spirit of humanity. It compre- 
hends the entire moral development of the past and radiates 
its influence into the remotest distances of the future. 

The highest artistic, scientific and political gifts are not 
met with every day ; and it is doubtless a matter of equal 
necessity that the ideal character should be the rarest of all 
endowments, hence to be regarded as the very manifestation 
of God on earth. A society where the majority are careful 
to maintain a good reputation, and where a considerable 
number, especially of the more important citizens, aim at 
propriety of sentiment and behaviour, may claim to have 
reached a normal degree of morality, if it possesses even 
one or two really upright characters. It will make no re- 
markable advance in moral culture and all that moral culture 
involves ; but neither will it fall behind. If, on the other 
hand, the masses are disposed to care nothing for reputation, 
if even the most influential men think more of their own 
profit than of the respect to be enjoyed as the reward of 
correct behaviour, such a society cannot be saved from moral 
degradation by any ordinary degree of righteousness. The 
situation demands that men of truly noble character shall 
set themselves to the task of bettering affairs. Finally, in 
those decisive periods when some great change in the con- 
ditions of human life, extending beyond the boundaries of 

72 The Moral Will [491-2 

a single nation, has brought about a moral crisis affecting 
the whole history of the world and demanding a revolution 
in moral ideas and theories, then the historical process awaits 
completion by the power of an ideal character, an ethical 
genius, whose influence can awaken slumbering impulses 
to life. 

It accords with the laws of psychical development that such 
periods should produce such men. For it is not in the desert 
of the commonplace that greatness takes its root. We must 
have conditions such that a need felt in the universal con- 
sciousness shall become an impelling force in the mind of 
some individual, which in turn exerts a powerful reaction 
upon the whole. Such phenomena seem like miracles to the 
common mass of men, who can see only the effects and not 
the silent creative forces of mind. But miracles of the same 
sort can be traced in every process of intellectual develop- 
ment. Everywhere the individual is impelled by the spirit of 
the whole, in which he partakes with all his thoughts, feelings 
and volitions. But in the leading minds of an age — and the 
creative moral genius is a leading mind of the highest order 
— the entire process of past development is comprehended, 
and new paths are marked out for the universal mind. 

(e) The Religious Form, of Moral Imperatives. 

It is probable that the influence of these four imperative 
motives, the motives of external and internal constraint, of 
permanent satisfaction and of the moral ideal, has been felt 
since the very beginnings of the moral life. Rarely, how- 
ever, and only at the later stages of moral evolution, have 
they assumed that universal form which the present dis- 
cussion, abstracting from particular phenomena, has been 
obliged to give them. In the case of the moral motives, as 
of other moral ideas, the religious form is the earliest. Thus 

49 2 ] Conscience y$ 

the imperative of external constraint first appears exclusively 
as a religious command, and the way in which the political 
authority comes to share in the exercise of constraint is 
simply by the gradual transfer to its charge of the means 
by which this command is enforced. Similarly internal 
constraint first makes itself felt in the relationships of re- 
ligious society; it is only by a gradual process that the 
influence of custom is freed from religious elements. The 
highest form that the imperative of permanent satisfaction 
can assume depends on the prospect of eternal punishment 
and reward. And the moral ideal, too, has its religious em- 
bodiment ; indeed, the religious conception is peculiarly 
effective here, for it represents to each individual a personal 
prototype of the moral conduct of life. In all these ways, 
religion fulfils its function as the great educative force to 
morality. Yet we must not forget that it can perform this 
function only because it is not, what dogmatism even at the 
present day supposes it to be, something distinct from human 
nature; but the very concrete sensuous embodiment of the 
moral ideal itself. That which man early feels to be the 
content of his moral consciousness, his imagination repre- 
sents as a world objective and yet permanently related to 
himself. If, then, we subtract from religious ideas the form 
with which imagination clothes them, we find their true 
content to be the imperatives of conscience. 1 But it is in 
the last of these imperatives, which regards the moral ideal 
as an endless task, that we find embodied the idea whence 
religion derives its real value, a value that is unchanged amid 
every variation in its presentative form, and makes religion 
superior to all the lower mythological embodiments of moral 
postulates. This idea is that of a moral task which is un- 
ending, and therefore essentially transcendental. 

Of the four imperatives of conscience, the last is the only 
1 Cf. Part I., chap, ii., pp. 95, 96. 

74 The Moral Will [492-3 

one that involves real knowledge about the true motives and 
ends of the moral life. But any attempt to give it final 
expression would be contrary to the proper nature of the 
moral ideal. If moral ideas develop, the science of morals 
cannot stand still. The best that we can do is to express 
these ideas as adequately as possible from the point of view 
of a given age and a given stage of historical development. 
There is all the more reason why we should eliminate from 
our formulas all that does not bear the stamp of permanence ; 
everything that holds good only from a particular standpoint. 
This character is especially marked in the case of the dis- 
tinction commonly made by ethics between goods, virtues 
and duties. In the first place, the notion of goods is 
specifically eudaemonistic in its origin ; hence, even if we 
abstract from its eudsemonism, it is always liable to misuse. 
The concept of virtue, referring as it does to the whole 
conduct of personal life, is too remote from the motives of 
particular actions ; while the idea of duty, finally, obscures 
the objective and universal significance of moral laws behind 
their subjective and individual applications. Hence in what 
follows we shall substitute the expression ' moral ends ' for 
' goods,' ' moral motives ' for ' virtues,' and ' moral norms ' for 
' duties.' 





WHEN he begins to speculate about himself, man 
becomes conscious of his own being as that of an 
individual personality which is also part of a social com- 
munity, and realises that in union with this community 
he forms a factor, however insignificant, in the immeasurable 
universe of the spirit of humanity. It follows that the ends 
sought by the individual will may be individual, or social, 
or pertaining to humanity at large. Moreover, the narrower 
of these ends may be accompanied by incidental results 
whose influence reaches into wider spheres. In particular, 
it is impossible to study individual ends without taking 
account of their remoter consequences to society and 

Two ways are open for the methodical treatment of this 
problem. First, we may try to get a general conception 
of morality, and to determine the various moral ends by 
analysing it. This is the method ordinarily used in modern 
ethics : so much so, in fact, that one lays oneself open to 
the charge of proceeding without any guiding principle if 
one neglects to follow it. The method which first lays down 
a principle and then brings the detailed facts under it is 
a legacy to modern moralists from Christian ethics, which 
could get its principle directly from its religious postulates. 


7 6 Moral Ends [494-5 

Secular moral philosophy abandoned the religious postulates, 
but held to the method originally in vogue. Even empiricism 
was no exception in this respect; when, for example, it 
asserted the principle of self-love or general utility, it did 
not do so on the basis of a systematic induction. It first 
determined its conception of morality in accordance with 
the principle chosen, and then tried to show that deductions 
from this conception really corresponded with the requisites 
for a happy or a moral state of society. Thus for facts, which 
are the true test of a conception of morality, it substituted 
dubious hypotheses and deductions, whose experimental 
confirmation was impossible. 

The second method of ethical research, therefore, starts 
with our empirical moral judgments. On the basis of these 
judgments it first tries to get at the various moral ends, and 
then to reach a general ethical principle through study of the 
ends. This is the method that Socrates pursued in ancient 
ethics, whose superiority to modern ethics, so far as freedom 
from prejudice goes, we must allow ; and it is the method 
that Aristotle perfected in a form which was definitive for 
ancient theories of life. Nowadays we think Socrates 
childishly naive in beginning his search for an ethical 
principle by trying to find out what all men thought on the 
subject. Yet we shall never obtain a higher test of truth 
than that of universal consent. What every normal 
consciousness, under conditions of sufficient enlightenment, 
recognises as self-evident, we call certain. Logical and 
mathematical axioms have no better foundation for their 
evidence. Science, however, should not rest content with 
this factual evidence, but should trace out its remoter 
sources. However, it would be an inverted order of proceed- 
ings to seek for sources before one had ascertained the course 
of the streams flowing from them ; and so the first problem 
in the investigation of moral ends is to answer the question : 

495-6] Individual Ends jj 

What ends are universally recognised by our judgment as 
moral? If we meet with contradictions in answering this 
question, then we shall be justified in abandoning the method 
which we have followed, and seeking for something outside 
of the conflicting moral judgments that will settle the 
difficulty. We shall find, though, that here as elsewhere 
theories are more contradictory than facts. With all the 
diversity among the ethical views of philosophers, there is 
little variation, even during long periods of time, in men's 
judgments as to what ends shall be called moral ; and within 
a given stage of moral development these judgments are 
hardly less constant than those which deal with logical 


It is usual to state that the first end which a man seeks 
in his own behalf should be that of self-preservation. Based 
directly on those sensuous impulses which serve to maintain 
individual life, this is looked upon as the lowest of moral 
ends. Generally speaking, it would seem to have moral 
value only when it is a means to some further end. The 
individual is required to preserve his own life in order to act 
for social and humanitarian ends, or for other individual ends. 
There are two of these individual ends which are to be in- 
directly reached through self-preservation, namely, self-satis- 
faction and self-perfection. But while self-preservation is 
merely a means to certain other ends, these two, on the 
other hand, must always be results that accompany other 
objects directly sought. Hence they must always be pursued 
indirectly. We may be satisfied by something and perfected 
in something ; and the direct object of our action will be 
in both cases the something that we conceive to be the means 
of attaining happiness and perfection. Further, we may be 
satisfied or rendered happy by those of our actions which 

78 Moral Ends [496-7 

relate to ourselves, or by those which find their object in 
reference to other men, and have thus a social or broadly 
human tendency. These latter fall outside the sphere of 
individual ends ; while the former can be nothing but in- 
dividual feelings of pleasure, to which, again, we can allow 
no moral value. The case is similar with the end of self- 
perfection, so much exploited by the moralists of the German 
Enlightenment. In the last analysis it must relate to the 
perfection of functions that aim either at individual or at 
universal ends ; and such functions would be considered 
moral only in the latter case. The way in which individual 
ends eliminate themselves so far as moral value is concerned 
may be represented in the following scheme : — 


as an end in itself as a means to other ends 

j indirectly willed 

(morally worthless). ___— - — ■ 

to individual ends to universal ends. 

Self-satisfaction Self-perfection 

through individual through to individual to universal 

ends universal ends. ends ends. 

(morally worthless). (morally worthless). 

Self-preservation for universal, not for merely individual 
ends ; satisfaction through universal, not through merely 
individual ends of action ; the development and perfection 
of capacities to serve, not individual, but universal ends : 
such is the principle that should govern our moral judgment 
of individual ends. According to this principle the indi- 
vidual end can be moral only when it is the immediate, but 
not the ultimate object ; in other words, the agent's own 
personality as such is never the true object of morality. 

497-8] Social Ends 79 


If the true object of the moral will cannot be our own Ego, 
we are confronted with this alternative : either it is some 
other Ego, the individual personality of our neighbour, or it 
is society as such in its various divisions of state, community 
and family. Now, if my own Ego is not an ultimate moral 
end, it is not easy to see why any other Ego should be. The 
preservation and happiness of an individual, the development 
of his capacities, are in and for themselves precisely equal in 
value, whether the individual in question is myself or some- 
one else. Nay, my own Ego is, if anything, the more im- 
portant, because the means of furthering its happiness and 
development are more fully in my power. Nor does the 
multiplication of individuals much alter the state of affairs. 
You cannot get a real quantity by putting zeros together. If 
an individual feeling of pleasure has no moral value, then 
neither has the pleasure of many or all individuals. Utili- 
tarianism is thus only extended egoism. It makes an 
ultimate end out of what can be only a proximate end or 
a means to further ends. Considered as means, the further- 
ance of one's own welfare and of that of others have both of 
them a relative moral value, to be measured by the relation 
of the means to the true moral end. This explains why we 
believe it better to work for our neighbour's advantage than 
for our own, and why, when the two conflict, we recognise 
the former course as the only moral one. The reason ordin- 
arily alleged for this, namely, that nature has already dis- 
posed us to look after ourselves, while unselfish action usually 
results only after a victory over egoistic motives, is hardly 
the final one. If unselfish as well as selfish impulses were 
not implanted in the human heart by nature, they could 
never develop; and the furtherance of one's own being, 
understood in a higher sense than that of the mere satis- 

8o Moral Ends [498 

faction of sensuous impulses, undoubtedly means more 
self-denial and renunciation than, for instance, the ordinary- 
exercise of sympathy, which is attended with a minimum 
of sacrifice. The final ground for the preference of altruistic 
actions is rather to be sought in two reasons, the one objective 
and the other subjective, which mutually support each other. 
The objective reason is the fact that an altruistic tendency on 
the part of actions makes possible a more extended function- 
ing of the moral will, and thus serves the common ends of 
society and humanity at large. The subjective reason, which 
is perhaps the more important, is that every unselfish action 
serves as a test of character, by which we can measure the 
general worth of the individual personality. The man who 
comes to the aid of a suffering fellow-being is possibly doing 
very little for the general welfare; but the particular action 
shows that he subordinates his own interest to objective ends. 
And it is just this symptomatic value of an action, rather 
than its external result, that determines our judgment of its 
moral goodness. The poor man who shares his scanty stock 
of bread with an unfortunate brother has done more than the 
millionaire who assures him an ample competence. 

If the individual Ego, whether my own or that of another, 
can never be the ultimate end of morality, there remain two 
social ends as the true objects of the moral will, — public 
welfare and universal progress. These two correspond to 
self-satisfaction and self-perfection in the case of the in- 
dividual. Like these, they are so intimately connected that 
public welfare without universal progress has no permanence, 
while progress, in turn, consists wholly in the furtherance 
of general welfare. Thus the second merely adds to the first 
the element of progressiveness. While the enhancement of 
public welfare stops at the attainment of a given end, universal 
progress extends its efforts beyond this end to further aims in 
a similar direction. 

498-9] Social Ends 81 

Now when we use these expressions, what do we mean by 
the terms ' public ' and ' universal ' ? Does public welfare 
consist in the sum of the welfare of all individuals, or of 
as many individuals as possible, — in a ' maximum of happi- 
ness ' ? Is universal progress, in like manner, the progress 
of as many individuals as possible ? Evidently, an affirma- 
tive answer to these questions would make the notions of 
general welfare and progress eliminate their own moral value, 
just as we found the notions of individual welfare and pro- 
gress doing. The more extended the happiness that an action 
produces, the more the act reveals a conscious striving to 
subordinate the individual to the social will, the higher do we 
rank it in our moral scale. But why we should do so is a 
mystery, except on the supposition that the happiness of no 
matter how many individuals is not the ultimate end, but 
only a means to the attainment of remoter and wider ends. 
Our way of regarding social facts is in accord with this view. 
As we pass from narrower to more comprehensive spheres 
of society, the acts of the universal will, embodied in those 
individual volitions which are directed towards universal 
ends, take account of matters that transcend the limits of 
the individual. And by-and-by we find it impossible to 
explain them as expressions of care for the well-being of any 
sum of individuals. Nearest to the narrow limits of individual 
existence stands the family. We all wish to ensure the future 
welfare of our children and grandchildren, but we are not 
much concerned about the fate of our posterity in remoter 
centuries. The foresight of the community extends some- 
what further; it would show want of conscience if it took 
account only of the living or their immediate successors in 
its care for public affairs. But it is the eye of the State that 
sees farthest into the future. The State alone has the right 
to expect great sacrifices from the present in behalf of a more 
distant time to come. Hence it is only right that whenever 


82 Moral Ends [499-5°° 

the profit of the present generation is subordinated for the 
benefit of future generations, the responsibility should be 
assumed, not by any individual, or even, in many cases, by the 
community, but by the State. 

And these facts are in harmony with our feelings about the 
future. If we could be absolutely assured of the misery of a 
descendant living two centuries hence, we should probably 
not be much disturbed. It would trouble us more to believe 
that the State and nation to which we belong were to perish 
in a few generations. The prospect would have to be post- 
poned for several centuries at least before our knowledge 
that all the works of time must be destroyed would make 
it tolerable. But there is one idea that would be for ever 
intolerable, though its realisation were thought of as thousands 
of years distant : it is the thought that humanity, with all 
its intellectual and moral toil, may vanish without leaving 
a trace, and that not even a memory of it may endure in any 
mind. This is why, when we come to the limits of individual 
existence, we look beyond, and rejoice in the hope of a future 
for the great social communities to which we belong and 
with which we labour for more lasting moral ends. And 
when, gazing far into the future, we see these communities 
disappearing, we live in the confidence that the moral end 
of humanity, in which all that is individual is absorbed, will 
never vanish. This confidence is born of faith, not of know- 
ledge; but of a faith based on dialectical analysis of the 
concept of a moral end, which shows that every given end 
is only proximate, not ultimate, — is thus, finally, a means 
to the attainment of an imperishable goal. 

The ultimate reason, then, for this continual postponement 
of the moral end is to be found in the transitoriness of in- 
dividual existence. The individual, however happy and 
perfect, is but a drop in the sea of life. What can his 
happiness and pain signify to the world ? The nothingness 
of individual existence was forcibly realised by Christian 

500-1] Social Ends 83 

ethics, which, in its promises of eternal blessedness, developed 
the opposite idea of a happiness infinite in value and dura- 
tion. But that fruition which religious hope seeks in the 
infinite alone may be found in real life. True, real life offers 
it only in finite and inadequate approximations ; but on the 
other hand, these forms lack the egoistic limitations that 
affect the religious conception. And nothing but the fact 
that this life of ours does offer such fruition ensures to it 
the imperishable character of its ultimate moral end. 

So long as we hold to the individualistic and pessimistic 
conception of finite existence, the Indian solution of the 
world-riddle is perhaps the most direct : eternal oblivion and 
annihilation are the surest deliverance from the pain of exist- 
ence. But just because the sphere of individual volitions 
never can furnish the supplement to the finitude and limita- 
tions of actual life, we must seek it, not in the form of 
subjective feelings of pleasure, which as such can have no 
universal significance, but in the form of objective intel- 
lectual values. These originate in the common intellectual 
life of humanity, and react to elevate the individual life ; not 
by resolving themselves into an objectively worthless sum of 
individual happinesses, but by producing new objective values 
of richer content through the creative force of the individual 
psychical life. We need but refer to the realm of historical 
criticism to assure ourselves that this way of estimating 
social ends is the only admissible, because the only real way. 
By what standard do we form moral judgments on men and 
nations which belong to a long-vanished past, and in whose 
case we may therefore most reasonably expect that transi- 
tory and apparent ends will have given place to permanent 
and real ones ? Not by the happiness which they themselves 
enjoyed, nor by the happiness they gave to their contempo- 
raries ; but solely by what they have done for the total 
development of humanity in all subsequent ages. 

84 Moral Ends [501-2 


A study of the loftiest examples of morality inevitably 
leads us to the conclusion that in order to rise to the highest 
forms of moral action, the individual must not work merely 
for his fellow-citizens and contemporaries. Still less must he 
labour for himself alone. Here, as elsewhere, the principle 
holds that when we are seeking to explain a conception, 
the instances we select should be as pregnant as possible. 
To attempt to define the essence of the moral character 
from the phenomena of average goodness is just like trying 
to discover the universal laws of mechanics from the most 
complicated meteorological processes. Now the life and 
actions of a Moses, a Socrates, or a Christ were for all 
ages : the traces of their moral influence will last as long 
as human history. True, this influence was at first felt 
only in limited circles, and many of their actions aimed 
directly at the immediate present. But the direct purpose 
of their greatest deeds transcended the limitations of the 
present ; and even those actions which were determined 
by proximate conditions have indirectly, as integral parts 
of an ideal character, a significance extending far beyond 
their immediate aim. 

While it is granted only to a very few favoured mortals 
directly to seek and attain the ends of universal humanity, 
yet all, even the lowest, may do so indirectly in various ways. 
Here, too, we find the principle of the heterogony of ends 
and the law of the inexhaustibility of the creative power in 
mind running through the whole process. The mission that 
any nation has to perform in the world's history is the 
function of the innumerable individual forces which so to 
make up the various departments of that nation's social 
life and political organisation: it is thus in the end the 

502-3] The Ends of Humanity 85 

function of individual wills. The least as well as the greatest 

may say in the words of the Earth-Spirit — 

'"Tis thus at the roaring loom of Time I ply, 
And weave the living garment of Deity." 

However restricted the immediate ends of an individual's 
action, they always transcend their immediate object, and 
lose themselves at last in the immeasurable stream of the 
intellectual development of humanity. 

What are, then, those broadly human ends which are the 
final outcome of all more limited moral endeavours ? Do they 
consist in universal happiness, embracing all the temporal 
and spatial conditions of human existence ? Or in universal 
progress, which seeks to increase the happiness of mankind 
beyond every given limit? Evidently, to answer either 
question in the affirmative would be to make our moral good 
consist in individual sensations of pleasure, which we have 
already seen cannot be moral ends, at least not ultimate ends. 
And so we find that our ultimate ends can be nothing but 
the production of psychical creations, a process in which the 
individual consciousness bears its part, yet whose final object 
is not the individual himself, but the universal spirit of 
humanity. Happiness is a secondary result brought about 
in the subjective consciousness by these psychical products ; 
it is also a motive operating on the will. Thus it may be 
regarded as an indispensable means to the attainment of 
moral ends, but never as the moral end itself. Kant's 
position, that the good must be done without inclination, 
while the ultimate end of morality is eternal happiness, com- 
pletely reverses the functions of means and end. Man can 
seek the good only because doing so makes him happy ; yet 
the good itself is not happiness, but an objective psychical 
product, which becomes a good in the ordinary sense of a 
pleasure - producing force solely through its reflections in 
the individual consciousness. 

86 Moral Ends [5°3~4 

If the humanitarian ends of morality thus fall within the 
scope of the universal teleological activity of mind, whose 
essential nature consists in its creative functions, then when 
we investigate them we must remember that in all intellectual 
life our study is restricted to the stages of development 
already attained. We can never predict what the future 
will bring forth from the present, except in so far as we 
may speculate concerning the immediate outcome of pro- 
cesses already begun. But the moral ends attained at any 
given period consist in the total intellectual culture of that 
period. The very possibility of talking about the ends of 
humanity nowadays is due to a relatively new state of 
affairs : to the fact, namely, that the universal spirit of man- 
kind has reached such a degree of self-consciousness as to 
produce the idea of humanity in the sense of a collective 
intellectual life, functioning in the processes and results of 
history. Along with this idea there has developed a convic- 
tion that the universal psychical products of human society 
are those moral objects attainable by us. But since such 
objects, like human action itself, have their origin in will, 
and since for that very reason the innermost essence of 
morality consists in ceaseless, never-resting effort, no single 
stage of moral development once attained can be regarded 
as a permanent end. The past has ceased to be an object 
of moral effort ; the present will cease to be so when another 
moment has passed. Thus the ultimate end of moral en- 
deavour is ideal ; it can never be realised. Yet, as the 
sphere of moral action widens, we must come nearer to those 
limits beyond which, outside of our possible experience, the 
real and the ideal meet. The concepts of ethics cannot 
represent the ideal as attainable ; that remains for religion, 
which supplements the sensuous world with supersensuous 
postulates expressed in symbolic form. 

The religious form of the moral ideal emphasises one 

504-5] The Ends of Humanity 87 

factor, which affects all departments of the moral end, but 
which is likely to produce a mistaken conception of the 
problem of morality where, as is always the case in practical 
ethics, the end falls within the immediate radius of human 
activity. Enlightened religious feeling realises that outwardly 
religious actions, consisting in an unreflective obedience to 
religious precepts or in a mere cult, are in themselves of no 
value ; that their whole worth lies in the disposition for 
which they stand, hence in the motives that produce them. 
Now since practical morality does, as a matter of fact, have 
a value over and above its symptomatic significance, in that 
even when it proceeds from impure motives it may bring 
about certain moral results, we tend to fancy that the moral 
character of an action resides wholly in the moral ends as 
above described. If this error is avoided, the opposite one 
is apt to arise. We may doubt whether these ends are moral 
at all, under the impression that an end can be moral only 
if it is moral under all circumstances. Such a view means 
a confusion between the morality of an end and that of an 
act or disposition. For dispositions and actions to be moral, 
both motive and end must be moral. The motive, on the 
other hand, may be moral when the resulting action is not ; 
this is the case when for any reason, e.g. an error in judg- 
ment, the end striven for is not a moral end. Or, again, the 
end may be moral and the act to which it leads morally 
indifferent; this may happen when the end is sought for 
indifferent or impure motives. It is evident that the neces- 
sity of having motive and end coincide if the act is to be 
moral will be more stringent in the case of the ends of 
humanity than in that of individual and social ends, for the 
nature of moral development requires that the latter should 
reach ever outward into wider spheres of life ; and so it is 
a priori clear that no given individual or social end is 
ultimate and final. The case is different with humanitarian 

88 Moral Ends [505-6 

ends. Beyond these there is nothing for which man can 
strive. And for this reason the objective end of all moral 
effort, which as such must be directed towards outward 
results, must lie wholly in the products of the creative power 
of mind. The fact that this end cannot be exactly defined, 
that it transcends every goal once attained and points to 
a remoter and higher goal, is expressed by religion in the 
doctrine that the ultimate end of moral endeavour is super- 
sensuous ; though religion, too, acknowledges that the end 
has moral worth only when it determines the motives and 
ends of daily conduct. It is but an imperfect, and at bottom 
an immoral form of the religious conception of a super- 
sensuous end for morality that, as in the case of the religious 
application of the retribution idea and its philosophical 
reflection in theological utilitarianism, finds both motive and 
end in the happiness of another life. 

As individual ends refer back to social ends, and social 
ends to the ends of humanity as a whole, so these last 
demand in their turn to be supplemented. There is no 
higher realm in which they can be included, but the indis- 
pensable ethical complement of the humanitarian end is the 
motive. The highest ends of humanity are not moral unless 
the motives that lead to them belong to the series of moral 
motives which we shall consider later. There are two im- 
portant corollaries from this postulate of harmony between 
end and motive. First, we must at the outset exclude from 
the realm of moral ends all those cases where such harmony 
is impossible, for the reason that the end is incompatible 
with moral motives. Thus even within those spheres of 
activity to which humanitarian ends belong, as, for instance, 
art, science and universal culture, there exist ends that are 
not only morally indifferent, but even immoral. Secondly, 
when the end aimed at is moral, we must distinguish between 
an estimate of the result of the action and an estimate of 

So6] The Ends of Humanity 89 

the action itself. The former depends on internal and ex- 
ternal conditions, part of which have nothing whatever to 
do with the moral character of the agent's personality. But 
the moral action as such depends on the moral disposition 
alone ; and the quiet fulfilment of duty in the modest round 
of daily tasks may show a higher morality than any achieve- 
ments, however outwardly brilliant, that spring from impure 
motives. There is certainly great injustice in the fact that 
we are so ready to judge the agent by the consequences of 
his action. But the compensation demanded by moral 
sentiment is not lacking: it is furnished by the satisfaction 
that we all feel when we are faithfully trying to do our duty 
in our own sphere of life. The joys of a good conscience, 
far excelling all other sources of happiness, are so great that 
the really moral man is entirely satisfied with the position 
assigned him by Fate : he would not change places with 
anyone. And the fact that even in the humblest walks of 
life this feeling of satisfaction with self may atone for out- 
ward differences in position and worldly goods is, perhaps, 
as convincing proof as could be found of the principle that, 
in the infinite sum of forces that combine to perform the 
great tasks of humanity, the moral worth of each individual 
is measured, not by results depending on chance conditions, 
but by the moral energy manifested in the purity of his 
disposition, and the power of moral motives to overcome all 
resistance. In the totality of the moral world there must 
be diverse gifts and diverse stations. Few can labour at the 
higher tasks of humanity, and perhaps for centuries there will 
be only an occasional individual who can work directly for 
its supreme ends. But indirect co-operation, involving an 
infinite number of gradations, is quite as necessary to the 
attainment of these ends, — a fact that represents the reverse 
and external aspect of that inner law of compensation which 
we have just discussed. True, the state of humanity has 

90 Moral Ends [5°7 

never been such as to give free play to this law of com- 
pensation, the law of the supplementing of end by motive. 
We find, on the contrary, that the general principle of moral 
development, which makes the end a thing ever striven for 
but never fully attained, must be extended to the forces of 
the moral life itself. The harmonious co-operation of these 
forces remains an ideal, to which the individual may gradually 
approximate in his internal and external moral endeavours ; 
while society works towards it by bringing about a state of 
affairs where every individual may co-operate in the moral 

And so we see that the ultimate end of human morality 
is the moral ideal, and that its immediate end is the pro- 
gressive perfection of humanity. All narrower fields of 
human effort, where the aim is individual and social per- 
fection, are finally included in this last and highest realm. 
Perfection is but a fictitious concept if it is understood in 
the eudaemonistic and utilitarian sense of a mere increase 
in the happiness to be attained through sensuous and 
intellectual sources. Such a theory makes happiness the 
real and ultimate end. The idea of perfection has no 
independent significance unless we realise that the ultimate 
moral end is ideal, to be reached only in approximation. 
This means that happiness has little ethical importance : 
it is not an end in itself, but a by-product of moral effort, 
though, at the same time, an aid to morality. Since the 
moral ideal belongs to the realm of the infinite, our only 
way of defining it is to characterise it indirectly in two ways. 
In the first place, we may define it positively as meaning the 
development of all the psychical forces of mankind in their 
individual, social and humanitarian functions, a development 
that progresses beyond every stage once attained and pro- 
ceeds to infinity. Secondly, we may define it negatively 
by saying that it involves a progressive diminution of all 

507-8] Immoral Ends 


the influences tending to check this development. Such 
influences have their source in acts of will that, considered 
from the point of view of the moral end, may be generally 
designated as counter to that end. And since these volitions 
are an important factor in the totality of moral evolution, 
we must study them more closely. 


The influences that work against the moral end spring 
from two sources : moral weakness and moral wickedness. 
The former results from weakness of will, the latter from 
a perversion of will. The former leads to negative opposi- 
tion, neglect of the good ; the latter to positive opposition, 
production of evil. The man who, because he is afraid of 
danger or discomfort to himself, lets a fellow-being perish 
when he might save him, is morally weak. The man who 
plots the destruction of a person who stands in his way 
is morally wicked. Of course, there are many and various 
degrees to both these forms of immorality. The most 
frequent and excusable form of moral weakness is when 
a man fails to devote his whole intellectual energy to the 
development of his own moral capacities ; the worst form 
is when he is too indolent to obey the direct social and 
humanitarian requirements of the social will. Weakness 
is here closely allied to wickedness, and in its further con- 
sequences often leads to wickedness. 

There are two kinds of moral judgment corresponding 
to these two kinds of immorality: non-approval and dis- 
approval. In both cases judgment is determined by the 
conflict between the action in question and the four impera- 
tive motives of conscience. And here, again, we find the 
motives of constraint ranking lowest in the scale. Yet in 
ordinary life they are almost the only guides of our 

92 Moral Ends [508-9 

judgment, and their fitness to perform this function is 
proportioned to the degree in which law and custom satisfy 
the requirements indicated by the two imperatives of free- 
dom as the external conditions of social life. Here, again, 
the result transcends the immediate aim. All we need ask 
of the vast majority of men is that they shall regulate their 
conduct by law and custom ; and where the demands of 
practical life leave no room for the investigation of the 
deeper springs of morality, law and custom prove their 
value as a code of ready-made precepts embodying the 
whole moral development of the past, and constituting it 
an effective force. It is only in the decisive situations 
of life, or in cases where a conflict of duties makes an 
appeal to the guidance of imperatives of constraint untrust- 
worthy, that the choice of ends must be influenced by 
the thought of permanent satisfaction, or, if this too fails, 
by the moral ideal. Fortunately such situations are rare ; 
and since ethical development is essentially an affair of 
the social will, it is sufficient if the leading spirits who 
direct the social will have the higher imperatives in mind. 
They can so order the customs and laws of a society as 
to guide all individual effort towards the more perfect moral 

Yet even the ordinary individual is not wholly devoid 
of guidance by the imperatives of freedom in his moral life. 
He encounters them in the form of certain religious ideas 
about the supersensuous world, which are in their turn 
closely associated with the imperatives of constraint. For 
instance, religion expresses in its own peculiar way the real 
ground of our condemnation of immoral ends, when it 
declares that the sinner has forfeited eternal happiness. The 
objective result of sin is made into a subjective result : 
the sinner has denied the objective moral ideal, and so he 
is forbidden the attainment even of a subjective ideal. For 

509] Immoral Ends 93 

as the moral action, reaching out in its consequence to 
infinity, finds its ultimate goal in the moral ideal, so the 
immoral action has its final outcome in the annihilation 
of that ideal. And this is the fundamental reason for the 
unconditional primacy of the social will over individual 
wills, which is manifested in all law, but especially in penal 
law. The mere habit of constraint may suffice to keep 
the individual from moral error ; but it can never justify the 
existence of constraint itself. 





OWING to the nature of the will, it is the affective 
elements of consciousness that are chiefly influential 
in the causation of action. Desire or aversion must always 
accompany will ; and feelings of pleasure or pain are always 
associated with these impulses. Hence there is no such 
thing as a special class of affective motives, different from 
other motives : human action does not result sometimes 
from feeling, directly, and sometimes from reflection, but 
always from feeling. These feelings, however, are in some 
cases associated with particular perceptions, — this is what 
we ordinarily mean by affective motives ; or, again, they 
may result from a more or less complicated train of ideas 
relating to the immediate or remoter empirical ends of the 
action ; or, finally, they may spring from a conception of 
the ultimate ideal end of moral endeavour, given to direct 
experience only in remote approximations. We shall call 
such conceptions of the ideal end, Ideas ; that power of the 
human mind which reaches out beyond empirical limits and 
creates ideas, we may term Reason. 

We shall thus have to distinguish motives of perception, 
motives of the understanding, and motives of reason. It 
need hardly be said that these terms do not refer to distinct 
faculties of the mind. According to the view adopted here, 


510-n] The Principal Forms of Moral Motives 95 

the ideas of reason originate in the sphere of voluntary 
activity just as the assumptions of the infinity of space, 
time and causality do in the philosophy of external nature. 
These assumptions, too, may be called ideas of reason. 
Like the ultimate ends of volition, they are never really 
given in experience. But just as we find it impossible to 
think of space with limits, of time standing still, and of 
the series of causal conditions having a beginning, so the 
final end of will is an ultimate postulate never to be 
actualised in experience. 


Immediate perception is always the first guide of our will. 
But perceptions soon come to be associated with ideas of 
the imagination, which connect the phenomena given in 
intuition with past and probable future events. All these 
ideas, taken together, operate as motives of perception. 
Thus the sight of a man in mortal peril usually arouses 
in our minds a dim idea of the events that led up to the 
situation, and a very lively idea of what will happen next ; 
and this train of ideas, operating as a whole, produces 
emotions that may become strong motives to determine 
our action. 

Self-feeling and sympathetic feeling are the two funda- 
mental forms of feeling that regularly function in this way 
as moral motives. The first of these is directly involved 
in self-consciousness and in the idea of one's own person- 
ality that grows up along with self-consciousness. But in 
the course of moral development many different sets of 
ideas have become embodied in the notion of self. And 
so motives of perception are produced, having the power 
to hold their own even against complicated external im- 
pressions, and to determine the will in a direction adapted 

96 Moral Motives [S 11 - 12 

to the situation of the moment. Thus we may have simple 
reactions of self-consciousness which are yet so admirably 
adapted to the moral end that no amount of reflection could 
have improved them. Indeed, it may often happen that when 
deliberation intervenes, it falsifies the surer instinct of the 
original impulse. For reflection can draw only on the stock 
of individual experience that is nearest in point of time, 
while in instinct we have the co-operation of an immeasur- 
able series of impulses belonging to the past. Practice and 
the growing fixity of character give increasing certainty 
to the direct operation of self-feeling. Thus the chief 
characteristic of moral maturity is the power to do right 
without deliberation ; at least wherever the decision is not 
complicated by a conflict of duties. To be faithful to pro- 
fessional obligations, to keep one's word, to speak the truth, 
— these are instincts that function as immediate reactions 
of self-feeling in everyone who is morally sound, though 
they may not always be able to withstand the opposition 
of other motives. As the character develops, there is an 
increasing stock of motives which formerly had their source 
in the understanding, but which are now incorporated 
into self-consciousness as impulses of perception. And the 
appropriate action follows upon the perception of a given 
situation with ever-increasing certainty. Hence it is evident, 
not only that the law requiring us to do right without 
inclination, i.e. without a motive, is easier to state than to 
obey ; but that the real mark of a mature character is its 
power to fulfil the moral law from pure inclination, without 
stopping to deliberate. 

Sympathetic feeling supplements self-feeling. And it is 
the fact that the latter cannot get on without the former 
which has given rise to mistaken attempts at a derivation 
of sympathy from self-feeling, through reflection or through 
an associative transference. The major premise here, which 

512-13] Motives of Perception 97 

makes sympathy develop later than self-feeling, is uncon- 
firmed by experience. The individual consciousness finds 
itself included in a social consciousness, and the individual 
will in a social will, with which its most vital instincts are 
shared ; thus sympathetic feeling and self-feeling are equally 
original. For along with the development of self-conscious- 
ness goes that of the consciousness of objects distinguished 
from the self. The Ego cannot exist without objects, any 
more than objects can exist without an apperceiving Ego. 
But objects are not perceived as indifferent things : the 
nearest and most important objects appear to be beings 
of like nature with the Ego, sharing its thoughts and feelings. 
Sympathetic feeling and self-feeling are thus affective modes 
that develop side by side, just as self-consciousness and 
objective consciousness are modes of thought simultaneously 
evolved. And hence all motives springing from sympathy 
involve the existence of a real social will. They do not 
relate to all objects whatever, but to those which we recog- 
nise as beings like ourselves ; hence as self-conscious person- 
alities with similar tendencies of will. 

Thus the sole object of sympathy is man, or, as we say 
in order to indicate the closeness of the relationship, our 
fellow-man. The lower animals we regard as fellow-creatures, 
a term which expresses our recognition of the fact that our 
fellowship with them has its sole basis in the ultimate ground 
of all things, — creation. Hence, while we may feel emotions 
in some measure akin to sympathy with reference to animals, 
the fundamental source of true sympathy, namely, the inner 
unity of our will with theirs, is lacking. Thus, it is evident 
that this kind of transferred sympathy can extend no further 
than we have reason to suppose the existence of conscious 
elements like our own. It is limited to sensations and 
feelings ; and even within these limits it is only the kind 
of sympathy that voluntarily condescends to its objects, not 

98 Moral Motives [513-14 

the kind that is based on a feeling of likeness and equality. 
We may suffer in sympathy with the sufferings of an animal, 
but the nobler feeling of sympathetic joy is impossible where 
animals are concerned ; subjectively as well as objectively 
it is the exclusive privilege of man. We may note, also, 
that the relation of animals to us is like ours to them in this 
respect, although for opposite reasons. An animal whose 
higher instincts have been developed by intercourse with 
man may rise to the point of sympathy with human suffer- 
ing, but it can never share in human joy, — at least not with 
feelings of pure and disinterested sympathy. This highest 
of all the motives of perception is for ever beyond the reach 
of the lower animals, and man can feel it only for his fellow- 
men. It is another proof that animals are in a pre-moral 
stage of development, this fact that the highest of them can 
feel, even for their own kind, no other sympathetic emotion 
save sympathetic suffering, and that only occasionally. True, 
they enjoy certain pleasures in common, but each individual 
is occupied with its own subjective satisfaction. They are 
unacquainted with that sympathetic joy which is derived 
from the pleasure of others. 

The development of sympathetic feeling is precisely like 
that of its kindred sentiment, self-feeling. Here, too, we 
find motives of the understanding and the reason gradually 
crystallising into pure motives of perception. On the other 
hand, these impulses, even in their most primitive forms, 
contain the germs of the higher motives. In particular, 
sympathetic feeling is the immediate precursor of the social 
instincts. These originate directly from sympathetic feeling, 
as soon as the social will begins to express itself in impulses 
that transcend purely individual feeling. And as this result 
generally involves a logical sequence of ideas, it presupposes 
the transition from motives of perception to motives of the 

514-15] Motives of the Understanding 99 


When deliberation intervenes between the impelling ideas 
and the decision to act, we have motives of the understand- 
ing. Here it is not the immediate, but a remoter end that 
determines the action, and the exciting cause is to be found 
in the feelings accompanying this end, which is the result of 
reflection. The motive of volition is thus an idea of the 
end, though it can operate only through the medium of the 
feelings indissolubly united with it. 

The ends which reflection presents to the will fall into two 
great classes. On the one hand, we have those ends which 
are directed towards the furtherance of our own welfare ; 
on the other, those which serve the purposes of our fellow- 
men or the community at large. The two forms of feeling 
corresponding to these two classes of ideated ends are the 
self-regarding and the social-regarding impulses. They are 
complexer forms of self-feeling and sympathetic feeling, 
but they differ from the affective elements of the motives 
of perception by reason of the different value that moral 
judgment ascribes to them. While self-feeling and sympa- 
thetic feeling have an equal warrant, so that it is the 
endeavour of the moral character to make them balance, 
the self-regarding impulses are recognised as being less 
worthy than the social-regarding impulses; and when the 
two conflict the latter are unconditionally preferred. 

There are two reasons, the one subjective and the other 
objective, for this difference. On the one hand, a proper 
regard for self is an essential requirement of the moral 
character ; but it is not a product of reflection : it is the 
direct reaction of self-consciousness upon external impres- 
sions. On the other hand, sympathy, being equally direct in 
its operations, relates to the individual moral subject alone, 
while the social-regarding impulses refer to a whole, which 

ioo Moral Motives \_w 

is a higher ethical end, not only because it includes many 
individuals, but because it produces more lasting results in 
the way of moral development. But knowledge of universal 
ends presupposes reflection about the nature of this whole 
and its relation to individuals. Hence it is through the 
understanding alone that the social will becomes self-con- 
sciously active in individual wills. When immediate per- 
ception gives rise to such a functioning of the social will, 
it is because, as character develops, motives of the under- 
standing have become transformed into motives of per- 
ception. Further, the self-regarding impulses, as we shall 
understand them, are, while distinctly inferior, by no means 
immoral. For we must wholly reject the base significance 
which the term 'self-regard' has come to have, as a result 
of the original inferiority of the sentiment and the tendency 
of language to exaggerate distinctions once established. 
Considered in its true nature, self-regarding activity includes 
not merely the furthering of one's happiness — which is for 
ethics only a means or a side-issue, never an end in itself — 
but first and chiefly one's own intellectual development and 
moral perfection. In this higher sense self-regard is not only 
natural, but moral ; for it is the necessary means to the 
building up of a character that shall serve the higher moral 
ends. There is certainly no virtue in the unselfishness of 
the lazy and the ignorant. The higher form of self-regard 
is immoral only when it claims precedence over the self- 
regarding impulses. Hence we have in the unconditional 
supremacy of the social-regarding impulses an instance of 
the dialectic of moral ends, whereby the individual end 
always resolves itself into some social end which it serves, 
thus becoming, finally, merely a means in the service of 
universal ends. 

It is the more important to establish the primacy of the 
social-regarding impulses with reference to the motives of 

515-16] Motives of the Understanding 101 

the understanding, because it is just here that the conflict 
between the interests of the Ego and those of his fellow-men 
wages most fiercely. The motives of perception antedate 
this conflict : natural instinct follows the immediate im- 
pulses of self-feeling and sympathy. In the event of a 
clash between these two impulses, the preponderant force 
of some one motive would soon decide matters ; and not 
infrequently the happy agreement of natural disposition with 
natural conditions makes the intenser motive decide in a way 
that satisfies our moral sense. On the other hand, the 
motives of reason are beyond the sphere of the conflict 
between egoism and altruism. In their case it is not the 
immediate or the more remote, but the ultimate ends of 
morality that are transformed into impulses ; and hence, 
while doubt and error may arise regarding the means to be 
chosen, there can be no dispute about the ends to be pre- 
ferred. The motives of the understanding are thus the only 
field for a conflict of interests. Egoism, continually sup- 
pressed by the moral superiority of the social-regarding 
impulses, is always renewing the struggle. At times it seems 
wholly victorious, and then the balancing of individual 
interests is the only force that restrains the otherwise un- 
bounded power of selfishness. Hence we can easily see 
why an exclusive consideration of the ethics of the under- 
standing should have given rise to the theory, so often 
maintained in the history of ethics, that the social-regarding 
impulses themselves are a mere limitation, invented by 
egoism, of the self-regarding activities. If the partisans 
of this view had contented themselves with showing that 
egoism is not, as it seems at first sight to be, in sheer 
opposition to the common welfare, but that it often serves 
universal ends when it seems to be directed solely towards 
the individual, no objection could be brought against their 
position. The fact that an intelligent selfishness often results 

102 Moral Motives [516-17 

in public benefits, a fact which our own age, with its astonish- 
ing development of competition, has perhaps made more 
apparent than it has ever been before, is but another instance 
of that principle of the heterogony of ends, which holds good 
throughout the moral realm. 

But effects like these, so different from their causes, would 
cease to be produced if they could not be brought about in- 
dependently, by means of causes really adequate to them. 
Experience shows that this kind of heteronomous production 
of good may suffice to preserve a balance of forces once 
established, or to sustain impulses that tend directly towards 
the public welfare. But shocking examples of the fate of 
moral progress, where egoism alone rules, are to be found in 
the phenomena of the moral downfall of whole races, as 
history occasionally presents them. Where faithfulness to 
professional duties, trustworthiness in social intercourse, self- 
sacrifice for the State, have once reached the minimum that 
will just about meet the demands of individual welfare, then 
the community is doomed to inevitable ruin. Of course, such 
an outcome will wreck the happiness of the individual. But 
where egoism rules supreme, what do the living care for future 
generations? 'Apres nous le deluge] they will say, until the 
flood sweeps them away with the words on their lips. 

Yet it cannot be denied that self-interest occupies a leading 
position among motives of the understanding, at least when 
we consider that the interests of the community are, broadly 
speaking, ensured through their association with individual 
interests. But this very fact, again, represents a powerful 
impulsive force operating within the sphere of conduct 
governed by the understanding, and constantly opposing 
self-interest. The official who serves the State perhaps does 
his duty in the first instance merely because he finds it to his 
own advantage. The worker in industrial arts who benefits 
the public by a technical application of some useful dis- 

517-18] Motives of the Understanding 103 

covery may have an eye, first of all, to his own personal 
interest. But ultimately neither of them can ignore the 
wider results of his activity. And so the universal end 
attained becomes one of the motives to action. Later, under 
the influence of practice, it may even become the ruling 

The production of social-regarding impulses is greatly 
helped by the co-operation of the lower and higher kinds 
of motive, those of perception and reason. It is a fact of 
special importance that the impulses of self-feeling and 
sympathetic feeling, which accompany direct perception, 
already involve a certain balance between the egoistic and 
altruistic tendencies in man's original disposition, so that 
if self-interest has too much to say in the reflective delibera- 
tions of the understanding, it is checked by natural feelings 
involving no reflection at all. 

Yet however useful this kind of instinctive check may be 
for individual development, the motives of the understanding 
offer stronger incentives to unselfish action than those of im- 
mediate perception, because they are directed towards wider 
ends. For while motives of perception can determine only 
the conduct of individual life and the personal intercourse of 
individuals, the motives of the understanding are the source 
of all those voluntary actions through which society gains 
an organisation based on the relation of reciprocal rights and 
duties. In such an organised social life, based on reflection, 
the collective will, whose only form of expression in in- 
dividual intercourse is impulsive in character, functions with 
a clearer self-consciousness. Yet it may conceivably happen 
that the chief end present to consciousness in this process 
of reflection is the liberty of the individual will, while the 
social ends lying beyond and trenching on the domain of 
reason are willed instinctively, rather than definitely sought. 
We see this very clearly in the fact that social practice 

104 Moral Motives [518-19 

usually approaches more closely to the ideal than juristic 
theory does, guided as the latter is almost wholly by a 
balancing of individual interests. Theory bases political and 
social institutions mainly on their utility to individuals. But 
the sacrifices of which the individual is capable for social 
and political ends, which are even demanded of him, can 
neither be explained nor justified on the ground of indi- 
vidual utility. Such faithfulness to duty as is shown by the 
official who sacrifices the security of his private existence 
for the public good, or by the soldier who gives his life for 
his country, could never be reached by starting from the 
point of view of individual interests, were it not for the fact 
that behind the understanding with its motives there is the 
idea of reason, telling us that the immediate material and 
intellectual ends of society serve as means to an ideal end 
of absolute value, before which the importance of the in- 
dividual existence utterly vanishes. 


We shall include under the head of rational motives of 
moral action all those which proceed from the thought of 
the ideal destiny of man. The nature of this thought is 
such that it can be realised only approximately in conscious- 
ness. It is a kind of prophecy, extending not only beyond 
every given limit, but beyond every thinkable limit ; and can 
no more be pictured completely than the representation of 
infinite time or infinite space. This is just what makes it an 
idea and not a true representation. All that can be im- 
mediately represented in consciousness is the direction in 
which the moral life at a given moment must tend, if it is 
to approach the ideal destiny. And this, in turn, can be 
done only when the tendency is already present in the 
motives of perception and understanding ; hence all that is 

519-20] Motives of Reason 105 

needed to raise them to the level of motives of reason is an 
insight into their deeper nature. 

Now we have already seen that all the impulses of percep- 
tion are based on the reciprocal relation of self-feeling and 
sympathetic feeling, the latter being regarded not as trans- 
ferred, but as extended self-feeling. That is to say, it is the 
feeling of the immediate unity between individual wills and a 
social will extending beyond all definite limits, in a spatial 
infinity that comprehends all beings of a like order of con- 
sciousness, and a temporal infinity that includes all the future 
conscious states of these beings. For every act, though it takes 
place in the present, is directed towards the future, and hence 
enters into the infinite causal series of future developments of 
will. All motives of perception thus come under this twofold 
infinity, however little the agent himself may be conscious of 
the fact. And just here a distinctive feature of feeling comes 
into play. Feeling never exists without a representation. 
But since it expresses rather the effect of the representation 
on consciousness than its direct objective significance, certain 
relations may have their influence on feeling that far trans- 
cend the immediate content of the representation, and that 
can be studied only by a process of deliberation which 
investigates the ultimate causality of motives. The man 
who risks his life to save a strange child from the flames 
may see at the moment of action nothing but the immediate 
impression, absorbing his whole consciousness. The content 
of this impression bears no relation whatever to the emotion 
that urges him to action. This substitution of one's own 
personality for that of a stranger is thinkable only as the 
product of a feeling of the direct unity between oneself and 
another, a feeling that at the critical moment forces one to 
save that other's life as if it were one's own. But the thought 
of the unity of two beings, almost wholly feeling at this 
stage, is but a single random link in an infinite chain of 

106 Moral Motives [520 

unifying relations which binds the individual Ego to the 
whole psychical being of humanity. Only on this supposi- 
tion can we understand the emotion of happiness that ac- 
companies such actions. To derive it from our sensibility 
to honour, gain, return services, etc., neither explains it nor 
accords with actual observation, though one cannot deny 
that selfish components sometimes enter into the enormous 
complexity of human motives. 

The like may be said of the motives of the understanding. 
It seems a priori inconceivable that a mere balancing of 
interests should account for the unconditional preference 
given to the social-regarding impulses in our estimation of 
moral value. For the maxim that a man serves his own 
interest best by furthering the common good is of doubtful 
truth as a general formula, and almost wholly useless as a 
motive. At least it can serve as a motive only after sub- 
ordination of the individual to the social will has occurred, 
and brought about results that form the empirical basis for 
the maxim. Again, we find the consciousness of direct unity 
with the social will giving rise to that feeling of happiness 
which accompanies activity for the common welfare, and 
which is strengthened on the one hand by the emotions 
involved in the conquering of self-interest, and on the other 
hand by the external results of unselfish action, among which 
respectability and social influence play a certain part even at 
this stage of moral progress. 

Motives of perception and understanding are thus in- 
directly, by virtue of the anticipations of feeling, rational 
motives to a certain degree. But they develop into true 
motives of reason only when the direct continuity of all 
individual actions with the infinity of the moral world, and 
the perception that the individual will corresponds to the 
idea of this continuity, come into clear consciousness as the 
determining grounds of action. 

520-21] Motives of Reason \oj 

Of course, these complex rational motives must be again 
transformed into feelings before they can become effective. 
Since, however, such feelings spring neither from direct per- 
ception nor from reflection about ends that are immediately 
and empirically attainable, but from the general assumption 
of ideal ends, we may distinguish them as ideal feelings. 
Traces of them are to be found in the earlier stages of moral 
development. They are there associated with the religious 
conception of an ideal world contrasted with the actual 
world. In the first stages of religion the ideal is regarded 
as given ; gradually it comes to be thought of as something 
posited, something that must always be sought, but can 
never be attained in sensuous experience. When religion has 
reached its final stage as an expression of the deepest moral 
sense, it transfers, not indeed the ideal itself, but the ceaseless 
effort after the ideal, from the future life to this life. It 
makes that effort the immediate motive to action, the central 
force of every empirical act. With this conception, the 
religious consciousness associates the postulate that an 
adequate object must exist, corresponding to the longing 
after an ideal. Ethics does not deny this postulate; but it 
bridges the chasm that separates empirical morality and the 
supersensuous ideal in the ordinary mind by regarding 
empirical morality as itself the gradual realisation of the 
ideal. In truth, the only sufficient ground for faith in the 
moral ideal lies in the fact that we can set no limits to the 
process of moral and intellectual development ; or, what 
comes to the same thing, that we cannot conceive its com- 
plete annihilation. This, however, is a basis that is absolutely 
secure. We cannot ground our faith in the moral ideal on 
the hypothesis of any supernatural revelation, or even on our 
demands for compensatory justice. On the one hand, the 
revelation hypothesis holds good subjectively only, not uni- 
versally ; its validity is lost as soon as subjective faith in the 

108 Moral Motives [521-22 

revealed testimony is lost. And on the other hand, to de- 
mand justice is to regard the ideal from a point of view that 
is not only narrow and empirical, but wholly egoistic. Thus • 
regarded, it must necessarily cease to be a moral ideal in the 
true sense. 

(a) The General Conditions of Immoral Volition. 

If the moral life is the infinite and never-ending realisation 
of an ideal life, how are we to understand the existence of 
immorality? How shall we explain the efficacy of motives 
irreconcilably opposed to the moral instincts and continually 
offering obstacles to the development of morality? Is not 
the existence of evil, even if it is psychologically conceivable, 
a moral and metaphysical contradiction of that fundamental 
belief in a world-order which, to our minds, essentially im- 
plies the thought of this order as moral ? 

As a matter of fact, there are two positions in ethical theory 
from which no satisfactory interpretation of immorality, con- 
sistent with its phenomenal manifestations in experience, can 
be reached. One of these positions is that of extreme in- 
dividualism in its two forms, egoism and utilitarianism ; the 
other is that of extreme universalism. The perplexity of 
both these theories, when confronted with the problem of evil, 
is evidence against them. For egoism, to set aside one's 
own interest is always an act of resignation, wherein the 
individual will does violence to those natural impulses which, 
as the sole forces governing it, are essentially justifiable. 
When such an act is demanded by society and its organisa- 
tions, the demand is a mere exertion of brute force against 
the individual will, justified only by its conduciveness to the 
majority of egoistic interests. Even in its motives crime is 
merely a case of faulty adaptation to ends ; it is not real 

522-23] Immoral Motives 


guilt, for which the social will not only can in justice but 
ought to exact atonement from the sinner. Utilitarianism, 
like egoism, makes the immorality of bad motives to 
consist wholly in their inutility. It differs from egoism 
because it has a more comprehensive moral end, the 
welfare of the whole. Hence it regards immorality as a 
striving after individual welfare exclusively, and morality 
as being essentially an endeavour to promote the general 
welfare, which last resolves itself into the welfare of all or of 
a majority of individuals. Thus the distinction between the 
moral and the immoral becomes purely quantitative, and it 
may be doubted whether the effect of the more extensive 
scope of actions for the general welfare is not cancelled by the 
greater intensive force of egoistic actions. Finally, extreme 
universalism considers all individual motives as relatively 
indifferent factors. Where they oppose the social will they 
may be left out of account altogether. Thus immorality 
becomes a mere negation of morality, a nullity that has no 
place in the infinite process of the moral spirit. 

Hence both these extreme positions fail to do justice to 
that profound antithesis which pervades all the motives of 
human action. It is easy to see why this should be so, for 
according to the one view only the individual will is real, and 
according to the other, only the social will. If either of these 
alternatives were true, then as a matter of fact, since the 
ultimate spring of immorality is egoism, the distinction 
between good and evil would either be reduced to a matter 
of quantity, by reason of the individual character of all 
moral ends, or become a mere appearance, by reason of the 
nothingness of the individual, — an illusion that vanishes as 
soon as things are regarded in their true nature. But the 
individual and the social will are equally real. The latter 
may surpass the former in moral worth and in comprehensive- 
ness, but not in reality; for if we do away with the indi- 

no Moral Motives [523-24 

viduals, the whole necessarily disappears. On the other 
hand, it is equally evident that there is no such thing as an 
isolated consciousness ; man's whole psychical existence is 
bound up in the society to which he belongs and with which 
he takes his place in the immeasurable chain of universal 
moral development. From this point of view we can under- 
stand at once both the unconditioned primacy of the social 
will over the individual will, and the significance of a conflict 
between the two. The will is moral as regards its results, so 
long as its action conforms to the social will ; as regards its 
character or disposition, so long as the motives that deter- 
mine it coincide with the ends of the social will. Motives 
that relate to ends which are indifferent to the social will are 
morally indifferent. That disposition or tendency is im- 
moral, on the other hand, which represents a revolt of the 
individual against the social will. Hence the ultimate source 
of immorality is always egoism. All other motives opposed 
to the social will, such as hatred, revenge, carelessness, or 
indifference to the general interests, are finally reducible 
to egoism. 

Since, however, the social will is not a single all-embracing 
reality, but is divided into various gradations, evidently the 
authority which the motives governing a given social will 
have over individual wills is relative rather than absolute. 
The social will of a community may be diverted for a longer 
or a shorter period from its permanent ends. This is 
regularly the case when the self-seeking of individuals has 
taken possession of the collective will : in such circumstances 
the strife between the individual and society often means only 
a conflict between weaker and stronger egoism. The same 
conflict occurs in another form when a narrower social will 
opposes a more comprehensive one ; when, for example, 
the interest of a single family enters the lists against that of 
the State, or when the temporary advantage of a people is 

524-25] Immoral Motives 1 1 1 

opposed to its permanent interest. Here we have simply the 
battle of egoism waged on a higher plane. The broader 
and more lasting ends must always be given precedence in 
such cases. But critical situations of this kind may involve 
a sharp conflict of duties in the individual consciousness. 
The ordinary fulfilment of duty may even become an im- 
moral act, and resistance to the existing legal order a duty. 
Of course, it is only characters of great moral energy and 
insight, where the more universal social will has attained 
clear consciousness, that are called on to settle such con- 
flicts. For the development of ordinary characters the 
performance of ordinary duties must suffice. But the fact 
that society, like the individual, is subject to perversions of 
will, that states may transgress and err as individuals do, 
does not ultimately interfere with the permanence of moral 
laws. For this permanence does not mean that morality is 
always the same, nor yet that all products of the social will, as 
they are brought forth in historical development, are equally 
real, and therefore, considered in the light of the age in which 
they appear, equally moral. This second view, that of the 
extreme historical school in philosophy, confuses the relative 
with the absolute social will. The latter is an idea of the 
reason, by which we must always suffer ourselves to be 
guided, but which loses all its significance if it is supposed 
to be realised in any single historical product, even the 
most sublime. 

Of course, the spirit of history is always in the right. But 
races are transitory, like individuals ; they are subject in the 
same way to passions, prejudices and weaknesses. The 
eternity of moral laws consists in eternal becoming, and this 
process, again, cannot be thought of save as involving con- 
tinual resistance and conflicts, growing out of the strife 
between wills. If morality is essentially a development of 
will, it is for that reason necessarily associated with the 

1 1 2 Moral Motives [525-6 

actual conditions arising from the relation of the individual 
to the social will, and of the various forms of the latter to 
one another. As in the egoism of individual life, so in that 
of historical life, the source of immorality is sometimes a 
subordination of the social will to individual interests, and 
sometimes the preference of a narrower to a more compre- 
hensive form of the social will. The conflict of good and 
evil is just this strife between wills. Since the empirical 
social will is finite and liable to error, the ultimate solution 
of this conflict is to be found only in an idea of reason, which 
makes the infinite series of will-forms terminate in a supreme 
will, phenomenally manifest in the individual consciousness 
as the imperative of the moral ideal, in the State and in 
society as the Spirit of History, and in the religious con- 
ception of the world as the Divine Will. 

(b) Individual Forms of Immorality. 

The ordinary form of immorality, and that which is of 
most importance practically, is individual immorality, which 
springs from a revolt of the individual against the social will. 
Since the various forms of the latter operate as the impera- 
tives of conscience in the individual consciousness, this kind 
of revolt is not merely external, but internal as well, a viola- 
tion of the individual's own moral character. It must be so, 
because the individual will is itself a part of the social will 
that it opposes. The four imperatives of conscience thus repre- 
sent different forms of the social will, and the significance of 
resistance to these imperatives is correspondingly different. 

The imperative of external constraint answers to the legal 
community represented by the will of the State. Resistance 
to this imperative leads to the worst form of immorality, 
namely, violation of the external legal order, crime. The 
imperative of internal or moral constraint is the product of 
the will of civilised humanity, hence of a social will that 

526-7] Immoral Motives 1 1 3 

transcends the limits of particular legal communities, though 
as a community of morals or customs it is restricted within 
certain bounds determined by similarity in degrees of culture 
and in the conditions of life. Resistance to this second form 
of the social will results in immoral action. Crime, too, is 
always an offence against the imperative of internal con- 
straint, an immoral action ; but not every immoral act is a 
crime. There are innumerable courses of life that run 
counter to the broadly human requirements of morality with- 
out conflicting in any way with the legal order. 

Offence against the two imperatives of constraint consti- 
tutes the notion of moral wickedness, or the positive form 
of immorality. On the other hand, actions that are opposed 
merely to the imperatives of freedom, that of permanent 
satisfaction and that of the ideal life, spring from moral 
weakness alone. We judge them less severely in proportion 
to the degree of moral force that it would take to obey 
these imperatives in a given case. 

Moral evil, considered with reference to individuals, is thus 
restricted to two forms, illegality and immorality. The out- 
ward difference between the two consists in the fact that 
the former is ordinarily liable to direct punishment, while the 
only public penalty for immoral action is general condemna- 
tion of the agent's character, and the social consequences of 
such condemnation, — a penalty known to be very uncertain 
in its operation. This difference is based, not only on the 
circumstance that the social will of humanity, against which 
merely moral wrong is directed, has no executive, but also 
and chiefly on the fact that crime involves an objective 
danger to the community which immorality does not involve 
to the same degree. Moreover, since immorality is manifest 
less in single clearly definable actions than in the whole 
conduct of life, it is impossible to subsume it under any 
definite moral system ; and when we find such a subsumption, 

H4 Moral Motives [527 

as in primitive stages of culture where morals and law are 
as yet insufficiently distinguished, it involves the most serious 
disadvantages to individual freedom and hence to moral 

Despite this difference in form, the distinction between 
illegality and immorality may be almost wholly disregarded 
in the study of immoral motives. Considered from the point 
of view of motive, the chief difference between the criminal 
and the immoral person lies in the outward opportunities 
which have influenced them as causes. There are positions 
in life where it would be hard to become a criminal ; and 
there are, unfortunately, others where it would be almost 
impossible to avoid becoming one. The immorality that is 
clever enough to keep itself carefully within the limits of what 
is legally allowable is especially at home in what is called 
' good society,' which might sometimes be more appropriately 
termed bad society: crime dwells oftenest with need and 
misery. Hence the most important condition that affects the 
origin of moral evil is social position. This is the chief factor 
in producing, or at least in facilitating the production of the 
two classes of motives that, independently or in conjunction, 
are the main sources of moral evil. One of these two classes 
is pleasure-seeking, the other is envy. They are degenerate 
forms of self-feeling and sympathetic feeling. In the search 
for pleasure we have self-feeling transformed into self-seeking, 
which makes its sole and ultimate end its own enjoyment. 
So long as it can keep within certain limits, it may surround 
itself with the appearance of morality ; but the moment it 
becomes a ruling passion it loses this capacity. The spirit 
of prudence and calculation, hitherto a modifying influence 
on the turbulence of desires, is now itself taken into the 
service of passion. The reckless use of others for one's own 
ends is the sole motive of action. 

While pleasure-seeking generally results from situations 

527-8] Immoral Motives 115 

in life that offer sufficient or too abundant means of satisfac- 
tion, envy springs from the soil of want. The fact that 
other people enjoy pleasures denied to himself arouses in 
the envious man a grudge against fate, and this sentiment 
passes all too readily into hatred of the fortunate individual 
in whom he sees his hostile fate embodied. So long as a 
man feels an inclination to work and a real pleasure in his 
calling, as incentives to activity, such a disposition will never 
develop in him. But where laziness and absence of occupa- 
tion are associated as negative conditions with the stimulus 
of self-seeking, sympathy becomes nothing higher than a 
sense of one's own lack of the happiness that others enjoy. 
Pleasure-seeking and envy, joined to carelessness and want 
of occupation, will thus inevitably lead to moral degeneracy. 
It were vain to look to any principles other than those 
involving a fundamental reform of social conditions for an 
improvement of this state of affairs. The social problem 
is not a question of justice, as it is thought to be by those 
social parties which are themselves infected with the egoistic 
motives of their adherents. Justice distributes according 
to desert. But how many of the people who demand an 
improvement in their situations, and for whom such an im- 
provement is urgently needed, can claim really to deserve 
it ? " Treat every man as he deserves, and who is safe from 
blows?" Yet the social problem is essentially an ethical 
problem. No unprejudiced person can shut his eyes to the 
fact that the relations of property and labour, as modern 
civilisation has established them, are in the highest degree 
adapted to increase the power and extend the influence of 
immoral motives. The state of society to-day tends to 
produce two social classes, which combine the conditions 
of immorality under their two opposed aspects : a class with 
material possessions and without employment, the end of 
whose existence is pleasure ; and a class devoid alike of 

1 1 6 Moral Motives [528-9 

possessions and of employment, which exhausts itself in the 
struggle for forbidden enjoyments. What is the use of 
educational reforms while these social wrongs continue ? 
Nothing short of a new system of law, which should reform 
society itself, could gradually effect a change. There is no 
slight foundation for the conviction that such a reform must 
come, in the fact that our present state of society is the 
product of two factors which fail to harmonise : a theory 
of law whose source is partly to be found in outgrown social 
relations, and a mass of new elements of culture which only 
violence can force into the old conceptual schemes. 

(c) The Connection of Immoral Motives. 

Nearly all the motives of the will tend to multiply them- 
selves. But none have this characteristic more strongly 
marked than immoral motives. It is not only that crime 
"is ever bringing forth crime anew," because habit blunts 
the conscience, and the fact that enjoyments are forbidden 
heightens the desire for them, making them assume new and 
often unnatural forms. Even before it leads to action, or 
while it is producing action, the motive which was at first 
predominant tends to associate with itself other motives, 
whose influence works in the same direction, and which not 
infrequently heighten the immorality of the act. This 
process is the more tragic because it is usually helped on 
by the promptings of conscience. For conscience is a 
monitor of doubtful effect. It may check action at the 
critical moment, and in such a case it generally settles the 
conflict of motives for a long time to come, and often in 
a way that is decisive for the agent's whole future life. But 
what happens perhaps oftener is that the motives opposed 
by conscience are but the more powerfully reinforced by 
auxiliary motives which were at first entirely ignored. Thus 
it may come about that the original motive of a criminal 

529-30] Immoral Motives 117 

act is not the one that finally decides it ; the agent may be 
himself deceived as to the motive that impelled him to 
action. This reinforcement of one motive by others not 
only makes the immoral tendency more nearly irresistible ; 
it almost always increases the gravity of the action. An 
attempt on the life of another, undertaken from self-interest, 
is transformed into a murder committed in a spirit of cruel 
hatred. Thus hatred and anger, in particular, are compara- 
tively rare as the primary motives to crime, — rarer than they 
might seem to be from the criminal's own statements and 
opinion, — but they seldom fail to be among the immediate 
motives, especially where the offence is one against the 
person. Even in the case of an assassin whose purpose is 
robbery and who attacks an unknown victim in the street, 
these passions are always present ; a violent onslaught would 
be almost impossible without' them. The fact that the man 
he assaults is in possession of something that he himself 
wants, and the self-defence to which the victim is forced, 
arouse a mixture of hatred and wrath, which often enough 
leaves its trace in the way the deed is performed. 

While this complication of motives is of the highest in- 
terest to practical psychology, its significance for ethics is 
relatively less. Ethically, the essential consideration is the 
fact that however various the motives to immorality may be 
in individual cases, the fundamental and ruling motive is 
always that immoderate egoism which leads to a revolt of 
the individual against the social will. Immorality, in the 
narrower sense, is a mode of life directed wholly towards 
the satisfaction of selfish impulses, while crime is an in- 
dividual act tending to annul the ends of the social will for 
the sake of satisfying individual impulses. 

n8 Moral Motives [530-1 

(d) Theories of Punishment. 

The notion of punishment is intimately connected with 
that of crime. Punishment is always an act of the social 
will ; hence, more especially, of the will of the State, since 
it is the State that as a rule expresses and fulfils the will 
of the legal community. The judge and the executive 
officer are merely the organs of this social will. In other 
cases also, outside of the realm of law, punishment has the 
same general character : the father who punishes his child 
embodies the social will of the family, and the teacher 
represents in his punishments the social will of the educa- 
tional community. There is no such thing as punishment 
inflicted by an individual will. This is just what constitutes 
the complete antithesis between punishment and the action 
punished, which usually proceeds from the will of an in- 
dividual. The moment that punishment loses this character, 
and, whether in public life or, as frequently enough happens, 
in the family or the school, assumes a form that shows it 
to be a mere arbitrary act of the individual will, it ceases 
to be punishment, and becomes revenge or ill-treatment. 
These facts should be kept in mind as carefully as the 
fundamental motive of crime, if we are to avoid wrong views 
of the nature of punishment. 

The most frequent form of error is where the acts of the 
social will are regarded from the same point of view as the 
conflict between individual wills. Punishment then becomes 
retribution. This is closely akin to revenge, and hence is 
often wholly identified with it, — always wrongly. Revenge 
meets the injury received with any kind of injury whatsoever 
in return ; retribution measures the deed and its retaliatory 
deed against each other, requiting good for good and evil 
for evil ; so that in both cases the amount of good or evil 
returned corresponds to the merit or demerit of the act. 

531] Immoral Motives 119 

Hence the most perfect form of retributive punishment is 
the jus talionis, to which, as a matter of fact, it was reduced 
by the older theories of punishment, as well as by Kant, 
following their example. But how can the jus talionis be 
applied to actions like fraud, perjury, or treason to one's 
country? And would not the penal power of the State 
itself become immoral, if it undertook to punish the cruelty 
of murder with an equal cruelty ? 

Retribution is the principle of private life. There it governs 
all our intercourse with others. Hence, so long as punish- 
ment is regarded from the point of view of individual rights, 
which is always the case in the older theories of law, the notion 
of retribution, and, so far as it is practicable, the jus talionis 
itself, are the sole ruling principles. At this stage of develop- 
ment punishment is still a mere reaction of one individual 
will against another, as is shown by the fact that it leaves 
the very worst forms of evil to be dealt with by the avenging 
will of an individual or his kinsmen. The case is different 
where the social will is the conscious representative of the 
general conception of law. It stands so high that it cannot 
inflict evil on the individual merely in order to square 
accounts with him for the evil he has done. Such a position 
simply transfers the standpoint of the individual will to the 
social will. Since punishment is and should be an evil, it 
continues to involve the element of retribution which at first 
constituted its whole nature ; but this element does not 
exhaust the content of the notion. Retribution and punish- 
ment are conceptual spheres that overlap partially but 
not completely. Punishment ceases to be identical with 
retribution in proportion as it ceases to be an act of private 
revenge, and becomes an act of public authority. Hence the 
barbarous conclusions to which the retributive theory leads, 
especially in its older forms, are to be rejected, not for the 
criminal's sake, but because hatred and revenge are emotions 

120 Moral Motives [531- 2 

which should have no influence on the social will. The 
single fact that it is, or at least ought to be, dispassionate, 
constitutes the immense superiority of public legislation. 
The postulate maintained by philosophy and religion both, 
that judgments about right and wrong should never be 
disturbed by emotion, must remain a mere ideal for the 
individual will. But the social will can fulfil it approximately, 
if not completely. 

The retributive theory makes punishment an end in itself. 
If the act is atoned for, the balance which it originally 
disturbed is restored ; any further results are at least outside 
the sphere of punishment as such. In this respect the theory 
agrees perfectly with a second conception, otherwise quite 
dissimilar, — the theory of security. This is based on the 
view expressed in Spinoza's phrase, " Security is the virtue 
of a State, but freedom is a private virtue." While the 
retributive theory makes individual emotion the vehicle of 
punishment, here, on the contrary, it is held to be essential 
that the State should confront wrongdoing in a wholly 
dispassionate spirit ; hence judging it, one might say, not 
by its moral significance, but merely with reference to the 
degree in which the criminal endangers public safety. 
Security is to be ensured by punishments involving restraint 
on personal liberty ; such punishments being sufficient, ac- 
cording to some theorists, for the majority of cases, and 
according to others, for all. Thus it is requisite that the 
punishment should last until the danger is in all probability 
removed. Evidently the result of this theory would be to 
mete out punishment, not according to the gravity of the 
offence, but according to the likelihood of future offences 
of a similar kind. The wife murderer, who has once for 
all attained his end by his action, the official who has 
embezzled funds and whose removal from office has destroyed 
his chance for further peculations, might be allowed to go 

532-3] Immoral Motives 121 

at liberty ; while, on the other hand, tramps and petty rascals, 
of whom the judge can confidently prophesy that they will 
steal and beg again at the next opportunity, would have 
to be locked up for life. It is evident that a theory so 
absolutely inconsistent with our moral sentiment and with 
the general notion of punishment must lead to error. But 
it seems to me that this inconsistency makes it impossible 
for us to predicate of the theory of security even that partial 
truth which belongs to the retributive theory. Punishment 
does not undertake to serve the end of security at all : it 
leaves that to the police and to the private vigilance of each 
individual. If it were the task of penal justice to render 
innocuous all those subjects who tended to become dangerous 
by reason of inclination to crime, habitual carelessness, pro- 
pensity to drink, mental derangement and the like, then 
the population of a country might be divided into two 
classes, the one sitting under lock and key and the other 
keeping guard. 

Conscious of this weakness in its position, the protective 
theory usually seeks further support by associating itself with 
another conception of punishment, which may also exist 
independently, — the theory, namely, of reformation. What 
distinguishes this view favourably from the two preceding 
is the fact that it makes punishment a means to the attain- 
ment of a further end, and not an end in itself. The school 
of Krause, which made an especial point of the reformatory 
theory in its propaganda, requires that punishment be 
executed with direct reference to this end. It aims to 
bring the offender to a consciousness of the immorality of 
his life by teaching and moral exhortation. Of course there 
is nothing to be said against such efforts, so long as they 
are combined with punishment. But if the whole conception 
of punishment is exhausted in them, it ceases altogether to 
be punishment, that is, an evil, and thereby loses a large 

122 Moral Motives [533-4 

portion of the moral effect that it is intended to produce. 
When the reformatory and protective theories are combined, 
the next step is to make the degree of reformation attained 
the standard of our judgments as to whether further 
restraints on the criminal's freedom are necessary or super- 
fluous. If one of the objects of punishment, reformation, 
is reached, the other, the security of society, follows as a 
matter of course. If the most dangerous of assassins has 
given convincing proof that he will lead a good life from 
now on, why should we hesitate to release him ? How such 
proof can be obtained is another question. Requiring prison 
officials to take a course in criminal psychology would hardly 
meet the difficulty. As a matter of fact, the greatest con- 
noisseur of human nature in the world could not predict 
with any degree of probability whether the promises of good 
behaviour, made in all good faith by the culprit in prison, 
would really be kept under the wholly different circumstances 
of freedom. Moreover, since it is a well-known fact that 
honest repentance is oftener found among great than among 
petty criminals, the absurd result of this proposition, even 
if it were practicable, would probably be the liberation of 
assassins and poisoners after a brief period of custody, and 
the maintenance of beggars and footpads all their lives in 
prison at the expense of society. 

Finally, the deterrent theory of punishment accords with 
the reformatory theory in regarding punishment as a means 
rather than an end, however differently it may conceive the 
essential nature of punishment. It agrees with the protective 
theory in maintaining that punishment exists not for the 
sake of the criminal, but for that of society. The murderer 
is executed, the thief imprisoned, to set an example. Aside 
from the fact, proved by statistics, that this result is not, as 
a rule, attained, since crimes tend rather to increase than 
to diminish in number and cruelty in proportion to the 

534-5] Immoral Motives 123 

cruelty and publicity of executions, it is essentially absurd to 
attempt to influence by punishment a third person rather 
than the individual punished. The basis of this conception 
is apparently failure to discriminate between the existence 
of the legal order in general and the special cases of its 
application. The fact that the State has penal power is, 
indeed, not to be underestimated in its importance for public 
morality. .It is the most forcible means of making the 
individual realise that his will is subject to a social will, and 
this consciousness is a prerequisite to the efficacy of all the 
special moral motives. But such a realisation on the in- 
dividual's part is quite independent of the manner in which 
the penal power is administered. It deters from crime, not 
because the latter as a particular act is met by a particular 
punishment, but because crime contravenes the conduct of 
life that is publicly sanctioned and operates in the individual 
conscience as the imperatives of constraint. When conscience 
has once been silenced the fear of punishment is powerless. 
Moreover, in accordance with the universal tendency of 
human nature to believe what it desires, almost every criminal 
beguiles himself into disregard of this consideration by con- 
fidently hoping to escape discovery. 

(e) The Essential Nature of Punishment. 

All these theories, some of them partial and one-sided, 
some of them wholly untenable, suffer from the same defect. 
They do not seek to derive their conception of punishment 
directly from the essential nature of crime, but instead intro- 
duce secondary or wholly irrelevant considerations. Crime 
is a revolt of the individual will against the social will ; hence 
punishment is the natural reaction of the latter against this 
revolt. It is a reaction that as such has a specific nature, 
and, while it is related to other conceptions like retribu- 
tion and reformation, must not be identified with them. An 

124 Moral Motives [535-6 

individual may inflict retribution on other individuals : the 
individual will may work for its own reformation, or a single 
free personality for that of another. But punishment pre- 
supposes the subordination of the person punished to the 
power that punishes. In the legal community of to-day, — 
and this constitutes its great advantage, an advantage not too 
dearly bought by the extreme individualism of the preceding 
centuries, — one individual will can never be subordinated to 
another. When it seems to be, the superior will really em- 
bodies an universal will. Personal supremacy is exercised 
only by a master over his slave, or, at all events, over his 
villein, though even in the latter case the relationship is so 
far connected with the common family property that the 
dependence ceases to be purely personal. Our modern view 
of law rejects the idea of subordinating one individual will 
to another, which involves a transference of the concep- 
tion of property into the sphere of free personality, as 
opposed to the fundamental notion involved in the concept 
of law. Hence it makes punishment exclusively the function 
of the social will. Punishment may be inflicted by the 
father -as the representative of the family, or by the teacher 
in the name of the educational community ; the officer may 
punish the soldier and the civil official his subordinate in 
virtue of the authority assigned them by public law. But 
as an individual personality I cannot punish anyone for the 
ill-treatment I have received; I can only revenge myself 
and retaliate. The person who retaliates must be prepared 
for further retaliation on his victim's part ; thus the ven- 
detta, which was a kind of retaliation of one individual 
on another representing an earlier stage of development 
than punishment in the true sense of the word, often 
resulted in a conflict long drawn out. Punishment puts 
an end once for all to such conflicts : it is impossible to 
retaliate against the will that punishes. And this is evidence 

536] Immoral Motives 125 

enough that those who identify punishment and retaliation 
have, to say the least, failed to reach an adequate definition 
of punishment. 1 

To express the general object of punishment, as a reaction 
of the social will upon the individual wills subordinated to 
it and in revolt against it, we may say that its significance 
is essentially disciplinary. This expression implies more 
definitely than the word punishment itself the supremacy 
of the will that punishes. Discipline, however, involves 
two ideas closely akin to it even in language, namely, 
chastisement and education. The object of punishment is 
to chastise, to inflict an evil on the rebellious subject, and 
thereby to bring his wrongdoing clearly before his mind. 
And its object is, further, to educate; when there is any 
prospect of success, to produce a permanent alteration in 
the faulty will, and thereby to avoid similar wrongdoing 
in the future. 

Besides these ends, which relate chiefly to the individual 
punished, a broader purpose is involved in punishment. It 
must set at rest the general sentiment of law, which has 
been disturbed and rendered uneasy by the outrage com- 
mitted. There must always be preserved a lively conscious- 
ness of the fact that crime is an evil which recoils upon 
the criminal himself. Thus punishment gains the added 
significance of expiation. It expiates crime, that is, it 
conciliates the disturbed consciousness of law. As expiation, 
however, it differs qualitatively from the expiated crime : 
the criminal is not punished because of the injuries he may 

1 The word punishment, however, is occasionally used in senses that do not 
coincide with the conception here discussed ; for instance, when we speak of 
'the punishment of social convention.' But the jurists themselves recognise 
that this is merely a matter of laxity in usage. The punishments of convention 
are obligations incurred by contract. They are established beforehand with the 
agreement of those who eventually have to undergo them. Hence they lack one 
of the essential elements of punishment, namely, constraint. 

126 Moral Motives [536-7 

have inflicted upon an individual. The case of crime is 
unlike that of private offences, for which the State, whose 
function here is simply that of the dispenser of universal 
justice, and which as such is the arbiter between conflicting 
individual wills, allows the individual to atone. Crime is 
a violation of public right, and the individual on whom it 
is committed is merely its accidental object. Thus private 
offences are atoned for by making good the injury received: 
the jus talionis holds here so far as it can be applied. Crime, 
as an offence committed against the social will, can be 
expiated by nothing in any measure corresponding to its 
own nature, for the objects of crime and punishment are 
wholly different: the one is the violated social will, the 
other the offending individual will. They agree only in 
their general nature as manifestations of will. For this 
reason punishment cannot be made qualitatively like crime ; 
but it may and must correspond to it in quantity. The 
heavier the guilt, the heavier must be the punishment. This 
is the point where the ideas of punishment and of retribution 
agree. But even quantitatively the relation of crime and 
penalty must fall short of that absolute proportion which 
the retributive theory in its stricter interpretation postulates. 
In particular, there must always be a maximum and minimum 
of punishment, beyond which it cannot follow the various 
gradations of wrongdoing which may still be possible. 1 
However, in any case, punishment has from the start a 
distinctive feature which the idea of retribution lacks. In 
punishment, namely, the will that inflicts retribution is 
superior to that which suffers retribution, and, as the social 

1 Thus, when the adherents of the retributive theory object to the death 
penalty on the ground that it allows of no further gradations, the argument 
affects the retributive theory itself in its extreme form rather than the death 
penalty; for the same thing is true of every maximal penalty, for instance, 
lifelong imprisonment. The retributive theory would lead to the qualified death 
penalties of the older systems of deterrent punishment. 

537-8] Immoral Motives 127 

will, is qualitatively different from it. For this reason punish- 
ment is not retribution at all : it is chastisement. 

But punishment aims to influence not only the individual 
punished, but the general consciousness of right. This has 
been disturbed by the transgression, and it will be set at 
rest when it sees that the transgressing will has expiated 
its wrongdoing through the suffering it undergoes in turn. 
Again, while the idea of expiation corresponds in part to 
that of retribution, the two are not wholly identical. For 
when we consider expiation in its essential nature, we find 
that it has both an active and a passive significance. The 
individual may expiate a wrong action by voluntarily under- 
going some evil which expresses his own inner wish that 
the wrong had not been done. Or he may perform in- 
voluntary expiation, when the social will to which he is 
subordinated inflicts an evil on him, to make him feel that 
his wrongdoing was itself an evil, and repent of it as such. 
Now punishment is primarily this second kind of expiation, 
imposed on the guilty subject and passively received by 
him. But it may become active expiation, if the penalty 
inflicted arouses the consciousness of guilt with sufficient 
intensity to make the culprit regard the punishment he 
gets as deserved, or even welcome. Anyone who has sought 
out in the solitude of their cells those guilty of the graver 
crimes must acknowledge that while such cases are not 
the most frequent, they occur often enough to represent 
one object which punishment must always have in view. 
This is the only way in which it can become a means of 
discipline, in the sense of chastising in order to educate. 
One of its objects, and not the least important, must always 
be that which, according to the reformatory theory, is its 
exclusive end. But to attain this end we must not follow 
the extreme partisans of the reformatory theory, and confuse 
punishment indiscriminately with any of the other means 

128 Moral Motives [538-9 

of education, such as instruction or information. Instruction 
as such is usually inapplicable to the cases where punish- 
ment is needed as an educative influence : this is true even 
of education in the family, and it is still more true where 
the penal power of the State is concerned. Its reformatory 
effect on the criminal must always be regarded as merely 
one object among others to be attained by punishment ; and 
if this object fails to be reached, by reason of the trifling 
nature of the offence or the incorrigible character of the 
offender, the punishment does not thereby become purpose- 
less. However true it may be that excessive cruelty in 
punishment is objectionable, even with reference to its sub^ 
jective end, we must not overlook the fact that punishment 
as such exerts its reformatory influence only when it is felt 
as a merited expiation of wrongdoing, that is, as an evil. 
Other humane efforts in the direction of instruction and 
moral exhortation may be combined with it, but they have 
nothing to do with punishment itself. 

Punishment thus combines in its essence three elements, 
to which it owes its distinctive character : the elements of 
chastisement, of expiation and of educational influence. The 
first of these is wholly involuntary ; chastisement forces the 
individual will to bend to that social will against which it has 
revolted. Expiation is also in the first instance involuntary ; 
it is a kind of satisfaction which the culprit must render, 
against his will, to the general consciousness of right. It 
may, however, become voluntary where the offender regards 
the penalty inflicted on him as a suitable atonement for his 
action, and one that he himself desires to make. Where this 
is the case, the third end of punishment, its educational 
effect, is attained. This, finally, is wholly voluntary ; it can 
never be brought about by constraint, but solely by a change 
in the inner disposition of the offender. 

The conceptions of punishment prevalent in different ages 

539] Immoral Motives 129 

have not always involved all three of these elements, and 
this fact partly explains the variations to which its meaning 
is still subject. The earliest of the three essential elements 
is that of chastisement : this is the direct outcome of the 
idea of revenge, transformed by a growing consciousness of 
the significance of the social will as the power that punishes. 
The element of objective expiation comes next ; then that of 
subjective expiation and of educational influence. 






(a) Fundamental and Derivative Norms. 

THE conception of a norm may be understood in a 
narrower and in a wider sense. In the latter instance, 
where it includes laws, rules and axioms, as well as norms in 
the stricter significance of the term, it means any principle 
which we make a postulate with reference to a given realm 
of facts. In its narrower sense, on the other hand, which 
is also its original sense, a norm is a precept of will. It 
designates which one of various possible kinds of action 
ought to be preferred. Now there are two sorts of voluntary 
activity which may be subjected to norms of this nature : 
theoretical activity, the activity of thought ; and practical 
or moral activity. Accordingly logic and ethics are the 
tr_ue normative sciences, and of these it is to ethics that the 
concept of a norm belongs in its original form, namely, that 
of a pure rule of will, which opposes an ' ought' to an ' is.' 1 

If we take the conception of a norm in this general ethical 
significance, it further becomes necessary to distinguish 
fundamental and derivative norms ; the former being moral 
requirements that cannot be derived from any more general 
principles, and the latter such special precepts as result from 
the application of the fundamental norms to particular cases 
1 Cf. on this point the Introduction, pp. 7 ff. 

54°-i] General Significance and Classification 131 

under particular conditions. Hence the fundamental norm is 
an ethical axiom. It has the same universality and necessity 
as an axiom. Particular moral laws, on the other hand, are 
derivative norms. And just as all the theorems in a mathe- 
matical discipline refer back to axioms, so every special 
moral law owes its attestation to its agreement with the 
universal and fundamental norms of ethics. 

It would be a mistake to conclude from this that the 
fundamental moral norms originated earlier in time than the 
special moral precepts. Such an assertion would be as far 
wrong as the statement that those abstract theoretical 
principles which we call axioms were known before their 
particular applications. Men used the logical laws of thought 
thousands of years before Aristotle propounded the principle 
of contradiction. Acquaintance with special numerical 
formulas and geometrical principles was current long before 
anyone tried to demonstrate the axiomatic presuppositions on 
which they were based, and possibly we have not yet found 
the most rational formulation for all these presuppositions. 
It need not surprise us, then, that while in practical life the 
truth of certain moral precepts has long been agreed upon, 
an unsettled conflict should still be waging on the question 
of the correct formulation of the universal norms. The fact 
is that precepts like those of the Mosaic Decalogue cannot be 
called fundamental moral norms, in the sense in which we 
use the term, any more than the principle that 2x2 = 4 can 
be termed an axiom. But if our fundamental norms are to 
be, not special moral precepts, but principles each one of 
which comprehends a whole class of precepts as particular 
instances, then the conflict of opinion on the general problems 
of ethics will inevitably betray itself in their formulation. 
In particular, their mode of statement will be affected by 
differences of opinion with regard to the nature of moral ends 
and motives; for it is the peculiar characteristic of the broadest 

132 The Moral Norms [541-2 

moral principles that they do not tell us what the nature 
of our acts must be, but rather what motives ought to guide 
our conduct. An essential mark of the transition from the 
concrete formulation of moral precepts to the more general 
formulation of fundamental norms is the fact that while the 
former usually leaves motives and ends wholly out of account, 
their consideration is indispensable to the latter. The Mosaic 
precepts are a classic example of concrete laws. Evidently 
where one stops short to a certain extent at the outer aspect 
of actions, as the Mosaic commands do, one cannot reach 
any fundamental principles. Thus the reference of actions 
back to their motives and ends, in the investigation of ethical 
norms, may be considered analogous to the reduction of 
arithmetical operations and geometrical constructions already 
performed to the elements of the number and space concepts, 
in the discovery of mathematical axioms. 

(b) Positive and Negative Norms. 

Besides the considerations just discussed, which are the 
general conditions under which all fundamental principles 
must be established, a peculiar condition affects the investiga- 
tion of moral norms. The particular moral precepts from 
which the norms are gradually derived through abstraction 
are in their original formulation for the most part negative 
rather than positive : for instance, " Thou shalt not kill " ; 
" Thou shalt not commit adultery " ; " Thou shalt not steal," 
etc. The commands to keep the Sabbath holy and to 
honour one's father and mother are the only real commands 
in the whole Mosaic Decalogue ; all the others are pro- 
hibitions. The immediate reason for this negative character 
of moral precepts is to be found in their direct relation to 
the human will. For they differ from all rules of a purely 
theoretical nature in that their fulfilment is entrusted to a 
power having free choice. Hence cautions against deviation 

542-3] General Significance and Classification 133 

from the norms are an immediate and practical necessity. 
It is only in logic, itself an ethics of thought, that a similar 
phenomenon appears ; and logic displays it to a more limited 
extent. Logic, like ethics, may formulate its precepts 
negatively, prohibiting combinations of ideas that are logi- 
cally wrong. And we find the original tendency to the 
prohibitive form showing itself in the noteworthy fact that 
even its earliest axiomatic formula, the law of contradiction, 
is a negative principle. Modern systems of logic are, of 
course, correct in making this principle subsequent to that 
of identity, which it presupposes. 

But the class of negative norms is much more important 
for ethics than for logic. And it is impossible not to see that 
the deeper reason for this lies in the fact that deviations from 
the norm assume far greater importance in the moral realm. 
A logical error may mislead an individual or even a number 
of individuals for a longer or a shorter time, but as soon 
as the error is once discovered its effects are remedied. On 
the other hand, an offence against moral laws leaves behind 
it far more serious results, often of such a nature that they 
can never be made good. It injures not only the person 
who commits it, but others, and in many cases the whole 
society to which the wrongdoer belongs. The effort of the 
human mind after knowledge gets little help from the kind 
of thinking that is satisfied with avoiding logical errors ; 
and for this reason we prefer the bold thinker who would 
rather err than give up the search for truth to the too 
cautious sceptic who seeks to avoid the danger of mistake 
by a convenient ignorance. In the moral realm, on the 
other hand, we think a good deal has been gained, if the 
graver errors have been shunned. Here, too, the error 
once committed can hardly ever be remedied, as it can in 
the logical realm when it is once known to be an error ; 
and the opposite tendency, the fatal impetus with which 

134 The Moral Norms [543 

the wrong act leads to new transgressions and strengthens 
the inclination towards them, is in like measure increased. 

Moreover, the above considerations explain the important 
fact that those moral precepts which aim at the prevention 
of serious injuries to the moral life are made the special 
charge of the political community, and hence come to form 
an important element in the system of public law. Again, 
we can see why prohibitive injunctions should play a 
prominent part among particular legal norms, and why 
whole departments of law, criminal law especially, should 
consist, to-day as in the age of the Mosaic Decalogue, almost 
entirely of negative norms. 

Yet it would be rash to conclude that, because certain 
norms are given to us in a negative form, they have no 
positive significance. The fact of the case is rather that, 
just as the logical principle of contradiction is only the 
negative aspect of the law of identity, so, in ethics, to every 
positive norm there corresponds a negative norm, and vice 
versd. The proclamation, " Thou shalt not kill," stands side 
by side with the injunction, " Thou shalt respect and guard 
thy neighbour's life.*' Cases occur when choice between the 
positive and the negative form cannot be determined by 
any calculation, and hence may vary almost at will. When 
a decided preference is given to the one or the other, it is be- 
cause of the influence naturally exerted by the ultimate object 
of the norm upon its formulation. In particular, the example 
just given illustrates the fact that morality and law divide 
between them, after a fashion, the two parallel norms : the 
positive norm belongs especially to the province of morality 
and the negative norm to that of law. The reason for this 
is to be found in the character of the legal order as above 
indicated. True, law does not furnish us with a compre- 
hensive summary of the contents of moral maxims, but it 
is the most powerful protective influence for the maintenance 

543-4] General Significance and Classification 135 

and advancement of the moral life. Because it has this 
nature, its norms are always prohibitive, especially in those 
departments whose direct object is the protection of morals. 
The task of expressing the positive ends to be protected is 
assigned not to legal norms, but to certain moral norms. 
Even in such cases, however, the distinction is absolute 
only in the realm of law. Morality, including as it does 
the positive complement to every given negative norm in 
the sphere of law, does not thereby exclude the negative 
norms. Every prohibition decreed by law in the interests 
of the moral life is at the same time a moral prohibition. 
When a moral norm sets up a certain end as the object of 
endeavour, it ipso facto prohibits all acts tending to nullify 
or endanger that end. The moral norm always demands 
more than the legal norm does, and necessarily includes the 
fulfilment of the latter. 

This brings us to another fact of importance with regard 
to the nature of ethical norms. As we have already seen, 
negative norms in the realm of law are sometimes found 
among the ultimate and first principles of the legal system. 
In criminal law, particularly, the few norms that can be 
expressed positively are all secondary, and most of them 
are auxiliary in their character. The exact opposite is true 
in the ethical realm. Here the negative character of a 
norm may be at once taken as a sign of its derivative 
nature, while the fundamental norms, which cannot be 
reduced to more primary principles, are always positive. 

This difference between morality and law, again, is a 
necessary consequence of the fact that the ultimate ends 
of morality are positive, aiming at the production of new 
results, internal and external ; while the immediate function 
of law, by reason of its nature as a measure for the pro- 
tection of certain goods and their defence against the 
dangers that threaten them, must be, at least in very many 

136 The Moral Norms [544-5 

cases, the establishment of norms to regulate the prevention 
of wrongdoing. The form of these norms, therefore, will 
be prohibitive or negative, in accordance with the prohibitive 
character of their end. Now the authority of negatives 
must always be relative rather than absolute. Hence the 
fact that law includes negative norms, which are irreducible 
to any more ultimate positive principles within the sphere 
of law itself, is merely an indication that such ultimate 
principles are to be found in another department, one which 
lies at the very foundation of the whole meaning of the legal 
order. And this department is that of morality. 

The above distinction definitely fixes the relation of law 
to morality. It indicates that fundamental norms, in the 
true sense of the term, belong to morality alone, not to law. 
Where the latter aims at the realisation of moral ends, which 
is undoubtedly the case in by far the greater and most 
valuable part of its functions, legal norms may always be 
referred back to moral norms. But where law prescribes 
things that are morally indifferent, as we must allow that 
it does in certain particulars, then it is impossible to suppose 
the existence of fundamental norms moralising such par- 
ticulars. We are dealing with arbitrary stipulations, some- 
what like the conventions necessary in the exact sciences to 
bring about an understanding of the meaning of concepts, 
or to obtain the standards of measurement required for 
comparison of observations. Where such prescriptions, in 
themselves external and indifferent, are essential to the 
furtherance of the moral ends of the community, as, for 
instance, in the case of certain delays in civil proceedings 
and the time limitations put on rights, the moral end they 
serve is only an indirect one. It is not the nature of the 
regulations in question, but the fact of their existence, that 
is in a certain sense deducible from the fundamental social 
norms of the moral life. 

545-6] General Significance and Classification 137 

(c) The Conflict of Norms. 

That there is no legal norm without an exception is a 
well-known truth, and one confirmed by universal experience. 
It may be applied to all the special moral precepts in whose 
fulfilment the sum of practical morality consists. The legal 
prescription, "Thou shalt not kill," yields to the call of a 
higher duty in the mind of the soldier on the battlefield or 
the officer charged with the execution of the death penalty. 
The moral law that requires us to respect our neighbour 
ceases to apply with reference to those who have lost by 
their disposition and conduct all claim to respect. The old 
moot question, whether it is ever necessary to lie, is answered 
affirmatively a thousand times in the practice of life, under 
the constraining influence of situations that offer us the 
alternative of sacrificing the more important to the less 
important moral precept, or vice versa. Although this fact, 
of course, does not justify us in putting mere convenience 
before truth. 

No doubt such exceptions are rarer when we are dealing 
with norms of a more general character. Yet the principle 
that norms are rules with exceptions holds good, within 
certain limits, even for the fundamental norms, unless one 
is satisfied with putting an empty formula in their place, 
instead of making them express, as they should do, the sum 
of the tendencies of the moral life. But the fundamental 
norms show clearly what is occasionally apparent in the 
more special moral precepts, namely, that the only ground 
which can justify such exceptions is a conflict between 
different norms. This conflict, since it must always be 
decided in behalf of the more urgent and important norm, 
demands the infraction of the norm of less urgency and 

The chief question that now confronts us is this : How can 

138 The Moral Norms [546-7 

such a system of laws with exceptions exist, unless the 
system itself is full of contradictions at the outset ? While 
one may grant that subordinate moral precepts, dealing 
with the concrete conditions of life, are subject to the 
fluctuations of these conditions, no such variability can affect 
the fundamental norms of ethics. And it is an important 
test of the trustworthiness of moral principles that they 
shall form a whole wherein there are no contradictions. 
Thus, as a matter of fact, we require that the ultimate pre- 
suppositions of all theoretical disciplines shall be internally 
coherent ; this is especially the case with logic, the theo- 
retical and normative science nearest akin to ethics. 

However, these scruples may be met by the statement 
that we are not dealing with a contradiction between the 
fundamental principles themselves, but merely with the 
question of their applicability to special cases. A moral 
fact may present certain features that would lead one to 
class it under a certain norm ; but further characteristics may 
render such a subsumption a mistake, and another and 
higher norm may take the place of the first. We are really 
as fully justified in holding that such instances are only 
apparent exceptions to the norm as we are in the case of 
those exceptions to natural laws which so often result from 
their crossing with other natural laws. 1 

But this kind of interpretation does not do away with an 
essential difference that undoubtedly exists between the two 
cases. Where a fundamental principle of logic or a law of 
nature is inapplicable, it is yet impossible that anything 
should result which is entirely opposed to the principle in 
question. But this is just what happens in the case of a 
conflict of norms. Hence we must recognise at the outset, 
as a characteristic feature of moral norms, that one of them 

1 Cf. my essay, Ueber den Begriffdes Gesetzes, etc.: Philosophische Studien, iii., 
pp. 201 ff. 

547-8] General Significance and Classification 139 

may involve subordination and sometimes even disregard 
of another. This brings us to a further characteristic that 
is, as a matter of fact, peculiar to the moral realm, and is 
based on the relation existing between the various spheres 
of the moral life. Not only is that relation one between 
different values, but it involves a difference in the content 
of ends. For while there is harmony and agreement among 
the various departments of life so far as the ultimate end is 
concerned, divergence is possible with reference to transitory 
ends, and the will is confronted with a choice between 
ends of different values, the one agreeing and the other 
conflicting with a given class of norms. Consequently an 
action no longer becomes moral by virtue of its conformity 
to any moral law, but only by its conformity to that law 
which belongs to the higher order of values. 

But an important question arises here as to which of the 
two conflicting norms shall be regarded as the higher and 
worthier. Is the question to be decided in each case on its 
own merits, or is there a general principle that a priori 
removes the choice from the sphere of individual estimation ? 
Clearly, if the former is the true state of affairs, it means 
that ethics must abandon general principles. If there are 
such principles, then the question of precedence among 
moral laws cannot possibly be left to the mere instinct of 
the practical conduct of life, — or at least only in the sense 
in which we usually trust natural tact and acquired habit to 
choose what subsequent reflection approves as proper in the 
given case. 

Now, as a matter of fact, the hierarchy of moral ends has 
already provided us with a principle that decides the values 
of different ends and settles the question of precedence in 
the event of their mutual conflict. The hierarchy of moral 
ends we found to be that social ends were to be preferred 
to individual ends, and the ends of humanity to those of a 

140 The Moral Norms [548-9 

society. Accordingly, the rule by which every conflict 
between norms is to be decided reads as follows : 

' When norms of different orders contradict each other, that 
one is to be preferred which serves the larger end: social 
ends come before individual ends, and humanitarian ends 
before social ends.' 

If, however, we take the notions ' social ' and ' humani- 
tarian,' the latter especially, in that wider sense in which the 
history of manners and customs uses them, we shall mis- 
understand this rule, and arrive at conclusions that are in flat 
contradiction to its real meaning. The difference between 
custom and morality is nowhere more evident than just here. 1 
Custom prepares the way for morality. It is replete with 
moral ideas, but they are for the most part undeveloped, 
or expressed in a form that merely gives a symbolic hint of 
their deeper moral purpose. In particular, the immediate 
objects even of the social and humanitarian ends prescribed 
by custom are often nothing but individual ends: the humani- 
tarian idea behind them is indicated only by the way in 
which they are sought. It is thus that the forms of social 
courtesy express respect for one's fellow-men, and beneficence 
shows a spirit of self-sacrifice for the sake of one's neighbour, 
irrespective of family and political ties. Thus all forms of 
custom, even those which, like beneficence, are really moral 
in their nature, are mere hints of the fundamental social and 
humanitarian norms, not direct applications of them. When 
they do, in addition, correspond to certain moral norms, the 
latter always belong to a lower order of ends. For instance, 
beneficence does reflect the idea of humanity, the duty of 
sacrificing the individual to mankind at large ; but the 
beneficent act itself is an act of individual morality merely, 
having an individual for its object. Hence, it must yield 
precedence to other and higher duties of a social or truly 

1 Cf. above, Part I., chap, hi., pp. 156-7 ; 281-2. 

549-5°] General Significance and Classification 141 

humanitarian character, — even, under some circumstances, 
to individual duties of superior worth. Such men as St. 
Nepomuk, who, the legend tells us, stole leather from the rich 
to make shoes for the poor ; or the millionaire, a type occa- 
sionally met with even in our modern society, who founds 
orphanages and hospitals with the money he has made by 
fraud and treachery ; are not obeying the law of the primacy 
of the wider norm. On the contrary, they are sinning 
against the higher social law in order to satisfy the claims 
of a lower individual duty. Thus we see that the rule giving 
precedence to the more comprehensive duty is not applicable 
to such individual actions, where certain indirect and reflex 
influences of the universal moral ends are manifested, but 
solely to the realisation of these ends themselves. 

If we follow this principle, there can be no doubt that even 
the practical judgment, when confronted with a conflict of 
duties, will accept the hierarchy above defined as uncon- 
ditionally decisive. In particular, we can trace in our whole 
system of law the increasing influence of the idea that social 
duties should take precedence of individual duties, and that 
among the various classes of the former, duties to the political 
community stand first. Further than this, of course, the 
gradation of values as sanctioned by positive law does not 
go. It is left to the freedom of private judgment to balance 
social against humanitarian ends ; but history finally gives its 
sanction, in these most difficult instances of moral choice, 
by recognising that actions which run counter to existing 
law and to the social morality that law protects are justified 
by reason of the higher ends which they accomplish. 

There is a second point wherein the above principle may 
be questioned. It is not essentially necessary that the 
conflicting duties should belong to different orders of ends. 
Under certain conditions a conflict may occur between 
ends of the same order. This is especially true of the 

142 The Moral Norms [55° 

various social duties'. For instance, the duty of an official 
to obey his superiors may conflict with the general duty 
of a citizen to exercise his franchise according to his 
best judgment, or to dissent from others in legislative 
assemblies ; and the duty of a judge to decide according to 
law may conflict with the duty of exercising justice. 

While our principle is not directly applicable to such cases, 
it may yet be indirectly applied through the medium of the 
scale of values that it suggests. In general, those norms are 
to be preferred which express the more comprehensive duty, 
or whose effects reach into the wider field of duty. Thus 
the duties imposed on the individual by membership in 
societies and unions for the protection of special interests 
are inferior to his duties as a member of the community, 
and the latter are inferior to his duties as a citizen of the 
State. Where different legal prescriptions conflict, the more 
important one should decide the action ; and the more 
important one is always that which protects the broader 
and more comprehensive right. 

It need hardly be added that principles, such as those 
which we have been working out, regarding the preference of 
certain norms over others, can never do more than indicate 
the general direction in which we are to look for a solution 
of the conflict of duties in particular cases, and that they 
do not supersede special investigation of the conditions 
preceding each individual choice of duties. It is only by 
such investigation that a right application of the general 
maxims is ensured. Free choice between different courses 
of action must always be a necessary element in the moral 
life. The advantage of getting at fundamental moral 
principles is not that it does away with free choice, but 
that it guards it from the influence of accidental and varying 

55'] General Significance and Classification 143 

(d) The Relation of Moral Norms to the Concepts of 
Duty and Virtue. 

The task of discovering the fundamental norms or principles 
which contain in themselves all possible laws is not exactly 
facilitated by the practical tendency that belongs to ethics 
by reason of the nature of its subject-matter. The practical 
character of ethics is responsible for the fact that the pro- 
pensity, usually peculiar to an earlier stage of reflection, 
towards substituting concrete applications for real principles, 
has lasted longer than would otherwise have been the case. 
It is significant in this connection, that no distinction, even 
in name, has commonly been made between subordinate and 
fundamental principles, both being termed indiscriminately 
" moral laws." The earliest attempts at investigation go 
so far as to disregard the imperative form of moral norms. 
They simply include the various tendencies of the moral 
will under certain general concepts which are derived by 
abstraction from particular facts, and which, in consequence, 
are usually lacking either in definiteness or in the requisite 
logical connection with each other, — the latter being the 
especial defect of the concepts in their original form. 

There are two classes of concepts that have been succes- 
sively used in the history of ethics as substitutes for norms 
in the proper sense of the word, namely, virtues and duties. 
They may be treated as conceptual embodiments of the 
facts of morality regarded from different points of view ; 
though foreign elements are not wholly excluded. For 
example, the virtue-concepts treat the facts of morality from 
the point of view of motives, while the duty-concepts regard 
them from the standpoint of ends. It is thus evident that 
both classes of concepts will be dependent in great measure 
on the opportunities furnished by experience for the forma- 
tion of ideas about the motives and ends of conduct. We 


The Moral Norms [551-2 

can see that it is one's view of the moral personality that 
determines the nature of the virtue-concepts; behind the 
ideas of courage, prudence, justice, etc., stand those of the 
brave, prudent or just man. Concepts of duty, on the other 
hand, are formed under the influence of the objective facts 
of moral action. Unselfishness, benevolence, liberality and 
the like are general notions derived chiefly from individual 
actions displaying the characters in question. This fact, 
moreover, explains why the virtue-concepts should pre- 
dominate in the earlier stages of ethical theory, while 
those of duties are added or substituted later. Science 
here reflects the actual development of the power of con- 
ceptual thought. In the realm of ethics, the individual 
personality leads to the formation of concepts much earlier 
than the character of actions does. 1 

The fact that moralists were so long satisfied with classing 
moral facts under concepts that laid too exclusive and 
partial stress either on the motive or on the end of action 
is connected with the fact that these concepts were in- 
accurately defined and limited ; and this vagueness, in 
turn, was due to their mode of origin. The ideas of the 
virtues are not wholly without relation to an end, nor are 
those of duties unrelated to the motives of conduct : the 
element lacking to each class of concepts is tacitly supplied 
in thought. Moreover, of the two, the duty-concepts are 
proved to belong to the higher stage of development, because 
they indicate clearly not only the end to be sought, but 
the norm to be followed. Indeed, their relation to the norm 
is their most salient feature in the present state of ethical 
theory, as is shown by the sharper distinction now drawn 
between the theory of virtue, that of goods, and that of 
duties, a distinction that came into vogue with Schleier- 
macher. Thus, the idea of duty is really the pure conceptual 
1 Cf. above, Part I., chap, i., pp. 31-33. 

S5 2 -3] General Significance and Classification 145 

embodiment of the norm, while the end is distinguished 
from it under the separate designation of the moral good. 
Further, 'duty' and 'norm' have become transformed into 
ethical concepts, whose relation is like that existing in the 
realm of law between legal ideas and the legal principles 
whence those ideas are derived. In fact, the analogy holds 
still further, in that the norms are undoubtedly prior to the 
duty-concepts. The only influences that operate directly 
on our moral conduct are the commands and prohibitions 
that guide the will under the guise of the various imperatives 
of conscience. But the analogy fails, on the other hand, 
when we remember that the priority of the principles of law 
with reference to the concepts derived from them is external 
as well as internal. The principles exist ready-made in the 
legal norms or in the laws of common usage, while the deri- 
vation of the concepts from the principles is a purely scientific 
task that has to be accomplished later. The priority of moral 
norms, on the other hand, is for the most part purely internal. 
It is only in the rare cases when, as, for instance, in the 
Mosaic Decalogue, certain moral precepts assume the form 
of laws, that the norm appears as both externally and 
internally prior. As a rule, however, where the task of 
translating the inner command into an outward form has 
been left to science, the stage of the norm has been dropped 
out. The method adopted has been purely descriptive, 
embracing certain fundamental characteristics of the moral 
personality in the concepts of the various virtues, and, later, 
certain facts of moral action in the concepts of duties. The 
search for the original norms comes as the final stage of 
the investigation. Not until the time of Kant and his 
theory of the moral imperative does ethics really enter on 
this last stage. 

It is not only because the tracing of derivative concepts to 
their sources is always essential, that the discovery of the 


146 The Moral Norms [553-4 

moral norms is so necessary. It is because this is the most 
direct way of distinguishing the chief tendencies of moral 
action, and because the relation between the fundamental 
norms and their subordinate moral precepts can be made out 
more clearly in the norms themselves than in the derived 
concepts. As a matter of fact, the customary mode of 
schematising the concepts of duties is highly unsatisfactory 
in this respect, and the case of the virtue-concepts is even 
worse. For the former, a division of the various spheres of 
duty was so obviously indicated that it could not be over- 
looked. As for the virtue-concepts, on the other hand, an 
acceptance of the enumerations and divisions furnished by 
language was fortunately suggested by the example of 
Aristotle. But the idea of making a distinction of values 
to correspond with the relation between fundamental and 
derivative norms, though in itself right enough, led to a 
perfectly arbitrary system of ranking the virtues. The so- 
called cardinal virtues of various moralists are indeed signifi- 
cant of the general ethical tendencies of their authors ; but 
they have, as a rule, no logical ground of division whatever, 
and in many cases lose sight of the essential distinction 
between general and particular. These defects are closely 
connected with the nature of the virtue-concepts themselves. 
They are ideas of properties. Hence the conceptual deter- 
mination of moral principles by their means is attended by 
two evils. First, since it is the moral personality having the 
properties in question that is always in the moralist's mind, 
he is apt to make no distinction between the general and 
the particular ; sometimes he even neglects to separate the 
worthier from the less worthy attributes. Secondly, the 
necessary result of such a system of property concepts, 
which refer wholly to external appearances, is that little 
regard is paid to the inner motives of morality and none 
whatever to the ends. Courage, veracity, prudence and the 

554-5] General Significance and Classification 147 

like are qualities that may be exercised from different causes 
and for the most various ends, occasionally even for those of 
an immoral character. 

A tendency opposite in nature to this splitting up of 
morality into a number of disconnected virtues has often 
been displayed in modern ethics, since the introduction of the 
norm idea, namely, the tendency to establish one single norm 
as the sole decisive and fundamental one. Sometimes it is 
the idea of a particular end that is thus employed, as, for 
instance, the principle of utility ; sometimes the moral im- 
perative is comprehended in a particular prescriptive formula, 
after the manner of Kant and Fichte. Now we are perfectly 
right in demanding that all the special ethical norms shall be 
brought into a coherent whole and arranged according to a 
definite rule. But if we try to force the most widely different 
spheres of moral life into the formula of a single imperative 
whose universality necessarily deprives it of all content, we 
do violence to the complexity of real life. As a matter of 
fact, a plurality of norms is required by the very postulate 
that the norms must take into consideration both the motives 
and the ends of morality, for these latter cannot be reduced 
to a single motive or a single end ; so we must maintain their 
internal coherence, in the sense that no important motive and 
no one of the principal ends can be thought away without 
disturbing the security of the others. This kind of coher- 
ence, however, is nowise different from that which exists 
among the various axioms of logic or the separate hypotheses 
•of mathematical disciplines. 

Another likeness between ethical norms and theoretical 
postulates is that in both cases the laws may be compre- 
hended in simple concepts. We can transform the logical 
axiom of identity into the concept of self-identity, or the 
universal law of cause and effect into the concept of caus- 
ality. And in the same way we may derive from the moral 

148 The Moral Norms [555-6 

precept, "Thou shalt respect thyself," a concept of self- 
respect. The ethical concepts thus obtained are no other 
than the duty-concepts. There are just as many fundamental 
duty-concepts as there are moral norms. When the practice 
of duty is thought of as a permanent characteristic, it be- 
comes a virtue. Thus the fundamental virtue - concepts 
corresponding to the fundamental moral norms are identical 
in their essential features with the duty-concepts. The only 
thing that distinguishes them is the secondary circumstance 
that duty is concerned with immediate obedience to the norm, 
resulting from an inner decision and expressed in an outward 
action ; while virtue is the habitual tendency of the moral 
personality to follow the norm. Thus we may speak of the 
virtue as well as of the duty of self-respect. In virtue, duty 
becomes a living reality : it has passed over from its objective 
aspect into the thought and action of an individual person- 
ality. And this explains the fact that the concept of duty 
is more closely related to the objective end, while that of 
virtue has more bearing on the subjective motive of conduct. 
But it is only in the case of the fundamental norms and 
their corresponding duty- and virtue-concepts that the agree- 
ment of meaning between norm, duty and virtue is so com- 
plete. Where the notions of duties and virtues are more 
closely adapted to the special conditions and phenomena 
of the moral life, their development is of necessity more 
independent. Hence those concepts which lay especial 
emphasis on the attainment of particular moral ends by 
means of certain actions come to have the specific character 
of duty- concepts, while those which take more account of 
the permanent conduct of life as a whole acquire the 
significance of virtue-concepts. Thus we speak of the duty 
of self-sacrifice for one's country, and of the virtue of 
courage. The former is not a characteristic that can be 
continually shown in our behaviour, but a difficult and hence 

556] General Significance and Classification 149 

an unusual task, which many people may never be called 
on to perform. Courage, on the other hand, is a quality 
that may be exercised in the most various situations of 
life. It therefore marks a permanent trait of the moral 

All this is evidence of the primary character of the norm 
and the comparatively secondary character of the duty and 
virtue concepts. The increasing separation of the latter that 
goes along with this transfer to concrete facts and character- 
istics indicates very clearly the mode of their development, 
along divergent lines, from the original norm concept. The 
defect of the older systems of ethics was not that they 
established the conceptions of duties and virtues, — such 
conceptions are in themselves just as necessary to ethics 
as the ideas of quantity are to mathematics, — but that they 
made these conceptions primary : whereas the more funda- 
mental elements are the moral norms, which exist in 
concrete reality under the form of special moral precepts 
and maxims, the fundamental norms being derived from 
these by abstraction. The science of ethics, instead of 
choosing this direct method of abstraction, took a round- 
about road, towards which it was urged by the processes 
of conceptual thought that had already begun in the 
speech of everyday life. Its attention was thus directed 
towards concrete moral qualities and actions earlier than 
towards the general laws upon which these concrete facts 
depend. The virtue-concepts, which should in a systematic 
treatment of the subject come after the duty-concepts, were 
earlier developed ; and the latter, in turn, were made to 
precede the norms from which they take their origin. 

150 The Moral Norms [556-7 

(e) The General Classification of Moral Norms. 

The method of classifying the moral norms will naturally 
be in accordance with the various spheres of life to which they 
relate, that is, will correspond to the various ends involved. 
The first and most restricted of these spheres is that of the 
moral subject himself. Next, and occupying an intermediate 
position, comes the social circle, as defined in family life, in 
the life of professional associations and social organisations, 
and, above all, in political life. Finally, the most comprehen- 
sive sphere of all is the community of universal intellectual 
interests, embracing all humanity, past and present. Making 
our division in accordance with the three principal forms 
of moral ends, then, we shall distinguish individual, social 
and humanitarian norms. Moreover, this classification corre- 
sponds, in part if not wholly, with our division of motives. 
For the individual and social norms function more especially 
in the realm of the motives of perception and of the under- 
standing, while the humanitarian ends always presuppose 
the activity of reason. 

Further, in each of these three departments we may 
distinguish a subjective and an objective norm, with its 
corresponding subjective and objective virtue and duty 
concepts. The subjective norm relates to the motive or 
disposition ; the objective norm to the end, or the action 
itself. Again, to every norm there correspond a duty and 
a right. The duty is directly expressed in the imperative 
form of the positive norm itself; the right, on the other 
hand, is more restricted in its application. No man can 
claim from others as a right, without further ceremony, 
that which he himself feels to be his duty towards them. 
Such a principle of reciprocity would seriously affect the 
spontaneity of moral action. It would, by making the fulfil- 
ment of duty dependent on external conditions, do away 

557-8] General Significance and Classification 151 

with one of the most essential characteristics of the funda- 
mental norms, namely, their absolutely unconditional validity 
— unconditional, that is, save for such apparent exceptions 
as are necessitated by the conflict of norms. The sphere 
of moral rights is thus narrower than that of moral duties. 
Right is not a correlate of duty in the sense that what is 
done as a duty is at the same time a right, but in the sense 
that the unhindered exercise of duty may be demanded 
as a right. Hence duty relates to the subjective constraint 
of moral norms, and right to objective freedom in the follow- 
ing of the norm. The former, again, is based on free self- 
determination ; the latter on the possibility that hindrances 
to such self-determination will arise as a result of the voli- 
tional activity of other free subjects. 

For this reason moral norms are purely subjective in their 
character. Everyone ought to follow them, but no one can 
be constrained to do so.' Legal norms, on the other hand, 
form a system of objective precepts ; and they must of 
necessity use constraint as the means of establishing their 
validity. The special formulation given to the legal norms 
may vary according to the historical conditions of their 
origin. But owing to their objective character, and to the 
fact that force may be used when necessary in their execu- 
tion, — characteristics which distinguish them from the moral 
norms, — they are sometimes inadequate to the moral function 
assigned them, and sometimes exceed it, by reason of the 
tendency that constraint always has to extend the sphere 
of its power. But it is the fundamental character of law 
to ensure to every subject who recognises it the use of his 
freedom. And since the moral norms are the rules that 
govern men in the exercise of freedom, the rules of law thus 
derive an ethical significance. The peculiar relation exist- 
ing between duty and right in consequence of this essential 
difference in the extension of the concepts requires that we 

152 The Moral Norms [558-9 

should follow our discussion of the various classes of moral 
norms, which, as such, may be termed norms of duty, with a 
special consideration of legal norms or norms of right. 


The subjective duty that each individual owes to himself is 
self-respect. It involves the following norm : 

' Think and act in such a way as never to lose respect 
for thyself.' 

Thus conceived, self-respect is not only a virtue, but a 
condition on which all the other virtues depend. Its opposite 
is meanness, a quality that is in itself a subjective disposition ; 
though, like self-respect, it is reflected in the whole outward 
behaviour of the individual. The source of meanness is lack 
of self-respect. The antithesis between the two, however, 
is complete only where there exists in addition a spirit of 
self-seeking, guided by low motives, — which is, indeed, almost 
inevitably the case. 

The individual's objective duty to himself is fidelity, — 
an unconditional adherence to the task he has set himself. 
The following norm corresponds to the virtue of fidelity to 

' Fulfil the duties to thyself and to others, which thou hast 

The opposite quality is forgetfulness of duty. This, again, 
is not a purely negative characteristic. Where the sense of 
duty is lacking, the direct outcome is merely a kind of reluct- 
ance to assume duties, usually the peculiar trait of lazy 
natures. But, as before, when egoistic tendencies get the 
upper hand, reluctance to undertake duties develops into a 
disposition not reluctant to forget the duty actually under- 

The two individual norms here posited are the comple- 

559-6o] Individual Norms 153 

ments of each other. They are related as disposition to 
action. All attempts to discover further norms in either 
direction lead merely to further specialisation of those above 
stated, that is, to a more detailed consideration of either the 
various motives on which self-respect may be based, or the 
special duties to which we should adhere. And specialisation 
of this kind always takes us into the field of social and humani- 
tarian norms. Thus we see that all other kinds of moral 
behaviour have their roots in the individual virtues of self- 
respect and fidelity to duty, just as their opposites, meanness 
and carelessness of duty, contain the germs of all vices. 

This brings us to a further characteristic of the individual 
norms. It is easy to see that they leave the content of moral 
duties wholly undefined. We do not learn either upon what 
qualities self-respect is based, or to what kind of obligations 
towards ourselves and others we should be faithful. The 
concepts of morality are really presupposed here ; and the 
norms themselves involve simply the formal prescription that 
these concepts should always be sustained in the individual's 
disposition and outward mode of life. The formal character 
of the individual norms, however, cannot surprise us when 
we recall the peculiar self-elimination of the ideas of in- 
dividual moral ends, — a process whose result was the con- 
viction that the individual cannot be his own moral end. 
Now there is another fact which is the direct antithesis of 
this, namely, that all the moral motives refer back to the 
individual consciousness ; for perception, understanding and 
reason, the three sources of moral grounds of action, are 
properties of that consciousness. Evidently the necessary 
result of this reciprocal relation is that while moral norms are 
commands which hold good for the individual only, their 
content can never relate to the individual. It must always 
refer to those wider spheres of life wherein the individual is a 
moral unit. 


The Moral Norms [560-1 


The objects of social norms are the fellow-beings environ- 
ing the subject, together with the ends for which they strive, 
singly or in common. The whole, to which conduct directed 
upon the furtherance of these ends is related, is society with 
its various divisions, such as the family, the community, the 
State, professional and other associations. 

The subjective virtue or disposition which forms the basis 
of all objective social virtues and moral activities is love for 
one's neighbour. And the corresponding norm is : 

' Respect thy neighbour as thyself.' 

The opposite of love for one's neighbour is self-love, which 
subordinates the welfare of others to that of self. 

The objective virtue here has a far wider sphere than that 
of its subjective complement, since its reference is not merely 
to the individual, but to the totality of all those belonging to 
the same social community. It is the virtue of public spirit ; 
the undertaking and faithful performance of such duties as 
are imposed on the individual by the family, the State and 
other social relationships. Hence the norm of public spirit 
is as follows : 

' Serve the community to which thou belongest' 

The opposite of public spirit is self-interest, which subor- 
dinates the interest of the whole to that of the individual, 
thereby regarding the community not as an end in itself, but 
as a means to individual ends. Evidently the difference in 
comprehensiveness that exists between public spirit and love 
of one's neighbour does not hold between self-love and self- 
interest. Here, both subjectively and objectively, the self is 
the central point of all sentiments and endeavours. Love 
of one's neighbour, on the other hand, as objectively 
exercised, is of moral worth only when it is not merely 
individual, but takes for its object our fellow-man as such 

56 1 ] Social Norms 


aside from the special personal relations that make him an 
object of emotion. Thus the narrow sort of love for one's 
neighbour, which is summed up in consideration for and 
furtherance of the interests of our friends, relatives, or those 
who are bound to us by sharing in the same narrower interests, 
is nothing but extended egoism. Like the self-interest of a 
community, it leads only too often to the sacrifice of wider 
ends for the sake of individual, or at least of more restricted 
ends. But it is a fact characteristic of the relation between 
motive and end that the subjective virtues are more limited 
in their scope, and have more of a personal tendency than 
the objective virtues. Real public spirit can never exist 
without true love of one's neighbour. But there is always 
about the latter a tinge of that individual emotion which 
binds a man, not to any or all of his fellow-men, but to some 
one in particular, with whom he is brought into touch through 
fulfilment of a common duty, through identical interests, 
human sympathy, or mere chance. It is only in the prac- 
tical exercise of public spirit that the fulfilment of duty is 
freed from the personal tone of subjective feeling. Love of 
country, in particular, is love of one's neighbour generalised 
through the reaction upon it of public spirit. Yet even love of 
country tends, in the individual instance, to translate itself into 
feelings of a personal sort. What would become of it, if we 
were to eliminate the influence of all the ties that bind us to 
our associates, to those who speak the same language, enjoy 
the same intellectual advantages and the same memories 
with ourselves ? But here, again, the objective end transcends 
the subjective motive; and through its influence the feeling 
that serves as motive gains an intensity that is not to be 
explained as a result of any sum of personal feelings. 

In consequence, however, of these facts, there may easily 
be a certain lack of congruity between the demands of 
subjective and objective duty in the case of the social norms. 

156 The Moral Norms [561-2 

The virtues of neighbourly love do not always seem to 
harmonise with those of public spirit. While the former 
are the virtues of weaker and more feminine natures, we are 
apt to think of the stronger and more masculine characters 
as the guardians of public spirit. The statesman, whose 
public activity is inspired by the purest patriotism, may 
ruthlessly sacrifice individual to universal ends, and is seldom 
disposed to play the Good Samaritan. The solution of this 
apparent antithesis is to be found in the fact that in the 
subjective norm the motive is given especial prominence, 
while in the objective norm it is the end that is the important 
thing. If the end has, through the conscious recognition 
of moral ends, gained the force of a motive, then the original 
motive may be the more readily subordinated for the time 
being. It is not wholly destroyed, but suppressed in order to 
be more fully exercised. Public spirit must sometimes dis- 
regard the immediate promptings of love for one's fellow-men, 
precisely because it is mindful of love's duties. But in thus 
directing itself towards ends that transcend the immediate 
social motives, the virtue of public spirit tends towards the 
fulfilment of those supreme laws which have as their ultimate 
object the psychical community of mankind, free from the 
limitations of time and space. 


The germ of the broadly human virtues is to be found 
in the virtues of individual and social life ; for the individual 
and society are factors of different orders, which co-operate 
in the moral development of humanity. This is especially 
true of the higher manifestations of fidelity to duty and of 
public spirit, which always transcend the immediate sphere 
of duty to which they belong, and become humanitarian 
virtues. They can neither be explained nor justified, save as 

562-3] Humanitarian Norms 157 

efforts to perform a task whose worth is infinite in com- 
parison with that of the individual existence. Every act 
of faithfulness to duty, of neighbourly love, or of public 
spirit, that involves the conscious self-sacrifice of an individual 
or of a community united for the fulfilment of duty, far 
transcends the limits of the immediate conditions, individual 
and social, under which it is performed. The moral subject 
himself feels, under such circumstances, that in performing 
the finite duty he is sharing in an infinite task, compared 
with which individual interests, and even social interests 
of the narrow sort, are as nothing. 

Hence the subjective virtue corresponding to this con- 
sciousness of an infinite moral task is humility, and its 
norm is : 

' Feel thyself to be an instrument in the service of the 
moral ideal.' 

Any other kind of humility is a false virtue. The objective 
virtue corresponding to this sentiment is self-sacrifice, which 
combines the highest degrees of fidelity to duty and sur- 
render of self, since it involves the complete absorption of 
the moral subject in the ideal task set before him ; an 
absolute spending of self in the duty undertaken, which is 
the prerequisite condition of all great moral achievements. 
The norm of self-sacrifice is thus : 

' Sacrifice thyself for that end which thou hast recognised 
to be thine ideal task.' 

The opposites of humility and self-sacrifice are arrogance 
and self-seeking. They deny the existence of the ideal, 
the one in the disposition of the agent, the other in the 
end sought. On the other hand, since the highest moral 
functions are the rarest and the hardest of all, we can see 
why disobedience to the norms of humanity should be held 
less injurious to individual morality than offences against 
the social norms. And yet it not infrequently happens that 

158 The Moral Norms [563-4 

a single instant, in critical situations, lifts even the weak 
nature above the sphere of its ordinary interests, and renders 
it capable of moral achievements beyond the comprehension 
of its own calmer judgment. It is just here that the 
enormous value of inspiration lies ; in the fact that it does 
away with the limits of individual existence, impelling the 
individual to acts that make him feel himself to be a mere 
instrument in the hands of an infinite power, to whose will 
he renders up his own. 

When we were discussing the individual norms, our 
attention was drawn to the fact that their character is 
purely formal, because the content of individual duties 
transcends the horizon of the individual himself. This is 
not the case with the humanitarian ends, since, on the 
contrary, they are the ultimate goal of all other ends. 
However, the notion of the ideal and the mode of its origin 
forbid us, as has been already observed in the case of the 
moral ends, to regard that ideal as something given. It is 
rather propounded as a problem. Thus the humanitarian 
norms, which represent the conception of the ideal in its 
practical applications, merely indicate the direction that we 
must follow in performing moral duties. The special content 
of the action must be left to the influence of the develop- 
mental conditions governing every single moral act in the 
infinite course of the moral life. It is, however, allowable 
to think of the ideal itself as unchangeable, in order that 
we may have a supreme regulative idea. But our conceptions 
of it, which are all that is given to us, and hence all that 
can influence us, are subject to ceaseless development. This 
process of development is the ultimate moral end conceivable 
by our minds, the fi,nal outcome of all individual ends : such 
is the postulate involved in the various historical modes of 
formulating the ideal problems of ethics. Hence such pro- 
blems are always relative ideals. They represent something 

564-5] Humanitarian Norms 159 

more perfect than the existing state of things, but never 
absolute perfection. Their comparative value is, however, 
sufficient to transform them into motive powers that must 
finally prevail, despite all disturbances and fluctuations in 
the ebb and flow of moral life. If we were not sure of 
their final victory, moral endeavour would have no object, 
either ultimate or proximate, and the moral world would be 
transformed from a reality into the greatest of all illusions. 

A certain affinity thus exists between the ideal of ethics 
and the fundamental hypotheses of mathematical science. 
They are not facts immediately demonstrable in experience, 
but postulates upon which we find it necessary to base our 
experience in order to make its coherence thinkable. But 
how inferior in importance the theoretical postulate appears 
in comparison with the ethical ideal ! If we were to abolish 
the former, while our desire for a coherent conception of 
the phenomenal world would, indeed, remain for ever un- 
satisfied, the world of our will, the moral world, would 
persist in undiminished reality. If, on the other hand, the 
moral ideal were done away with, each individual end would 
be a passing illusion, and the history of the world a disjointed 
comedy, forgotten as soon as the curtain falls. Take away 
the moral ideal, and what would all our theoretical know- 
ledges avail, however deep and broad, save to satisfy an 
idle curiosity, which sinks back into nothingness together 
with the ephemeral need it serves, — into that nothingness 
where the restless will itself, after exhausting its own being 
in the endeavour after imaginary ends, at length finds 
repose ? 

160 The Moral Norms [5 6 5-6 


(a) The Natural Law Theory and the Historical Theory 

of Law. 

We have already discussed, in our study of the general 
forms of society, the origin of the legal order as one of the 
most important facts of the moral life. 1 Like all the products 
of psychical culture, it is subject to the law of endless develop- 
ment. In the earliest conceptions of law we find the merest 
germs of our present ideas on the subject ; and in its further 
evolution, law, like every other intellectual creation, is affected 
by national tendencies and historical events. Even social, 
political and philosophical theories have not been without 
their influence on this development, since widely diffused 
subjective views react to a certain extent on objective 

In addition, there are special difficulties presented by the 
gradual separation of law from the kindred spheres of custom 
and morality, and by its dependence on the will of the State, 
which is not seldom influenced by heterogeneous motives. 

Thus the questions as to the essential nature of the legal 
norms, regarded from the fundamental position which we 
have reached in ethical theory, and their relation to moral 
norms, cannot be answered, after the fashion of the old 
natural right theories, by deducing from the nature of man 
certain fundamental rights which are independent of all tem- 
poral and other conditions. Nor is it possible merely to refer 
to the development of the structure of law, which is what 
the extreme historical theories do, instead of giving a real 
answer. Man in abstracto, as assumed by philosophies of 
law, has never actually existed at any point in time or space. 
Law, like all psychical creations, and like the moral life in 
particular, is not invariable : it has been and will for ever 

1 Cf. Part I., chap, iii., pp. 264-6, 

5 66] Legal Norms 161 

continue to be in a process of becoming. Certain legal 
norms may have come to be permanent acquisitions to 
moral culture at an early stage of this process of develop- 
ment ; others may seem, to a more refined theory of law, 
inalienable possessions at least. Yet not only are the more 
immediate conditions affecting the validity of such relatively 
permanent principles variable in character, but, what is 
more important, law itself would lose a part of its most 
essential groundwork, if it were restricted to such elements 
as were not expected to change. A department of law that 
is in the highest degree important for ethics relates to the 
constitution and administration of the State. And who at 
the present time would be willing to undertake the construc- 
tion of a State that should represent the highest ideal of 
universal humanity, even for any attainable point in the 
future; not to mention one that should be valid for all ages 
and races? Do not the relations of capital and income, of 
labour and exchange vary, and with them men's views on the 
most fundamental relationships of private rights? Thus we 
see that law is as variable as man himself; and the attempt 
to include it in an abstract and absolutely valid system has 
about as much chance of success as the attempt to intro- 
duce an universal language. Efforts of this sort vacillate 
ineffectually between an appeal to the few norms that have 
real permanence, such as, for instance, those of penal law; 
and arbitrary selections from some real or imaginary system 
of positive law. 

While ethics gets little help from the theory of law that 
seeks to derive the whole content of the legal order from 
some conception of the nature of human personality, neither 
can it rest satisfied, when the question as to the relation of 
law to the moral norms is raised, with a general reference 
to the actual development of the legal order. Rather it 
has to ask whether a certain regularity cannot be traced 


1 62 The Moral Norms [566-7 

in this steady course of development ; a regularity that must 
be conceived as the really permanent element in morals, 
as that which persists through all changes in the content of 
particular principles. The fact is that just as the moral ends, 
while their details may vary in accordance with inner and 
outer conditions, yet ultimately point to ideal moral purposes 
which are themselves unchangeable, though our knowledge 
of them depends on the stage of moral development we 
have reached ; so the changing conceptions of law may be 
regarded as the special forms assumed, in consequence of the 
existing state of moral and social cultivation, by the thought 
of law as it develops according to inviolable principles. 1 

In all these respects the case of law is similar to that of 
morality itself; the two are here, as elsewhere, directly con- 
nected. The only universal moral norms that ethics can 
reach are such as indicate, from the point of view of existing 

1 The view here expressed is somewhat akin to Lorenz von Stein's conception 
of the relation between law, the State and society (System d. Staatswissenschaft, 
ii., Gcsellschaftslehre, I Abtk., pp. 51 ff.). Stein contrasts with pure law, which 
he regards as the object of the philosophy of law, positive law, as the object of 
science. He derives the former from the nature of personality, and makes it 
identical for all individuals and all times ; though as a result of the constantly 
varying conditions of society it can never be made actual in this form, but is 
transformed under the influence of these conditions into positive law, involved in 
a continuous process of historical development. Stein thus differs from the 
natural law theorists in expressly recognising the fact that abstract philosophical 
law or right can never be applied to reality. His theory, however, resembles 
theirs in two respects. First, he bases pure law exclusively on the free personality, 
which he assumes as existing prior to all historical conditions ; while society, on 
the contrary, he regards as being wholly an affair of history. In the second 
place, he removes pure law entirely from the flux of intellectual and moral develop- 
ment, making it an unchangeable object of abstract theory. Against the former of 
these positions it may be urged, I think, that society is just as indispensable a 
condition of the existence of law as is the individual moral personality ; and that 
the latter in its ends is just as much subject to the flux of historical development 
as the former. Against the second it may be objected that, because of this 
unceasing flux of moral development, we have in the case of law, as elsewhere, 
not a concept identical at all stages of development, but merely an ideal con- 
ceived from the point of view of the existing stage. 

5 6 7-8] Legal Norms 163 

moral conceptions, the road towards the realisation of those 
ends which lie in the direction of the moral ideal, itself 
never to be attained. And so no legal principles can do 
more than furnish, whether directly or by implication, a broad 
outline of those more external ends which are necessary for 
the protection of society, and which express the conception 
of law conforming to the existing conception of morality. 
The priority of the philosophical norm of law, with reference 
to the positive norm, consists chiefly in the fact that it intro- 
duces into law moral postulates, which actual law, on account 
of the inhibitive influences that every process of historical 
development must encounter, has not as yet succeeded in 
expressing. The philosophy of law thus opens the way for 
its science and practice. Only, of course, we must not 
understand by philosophy the natural law of the schools, 
cramped by dogmatic prejudices. What is meant is rather 
that philosophical consciousness of law which lives in the 
science of law itself, and whose stimulus is drawn in the 
first instance from the motives of practical morality, and 
secondarily from the development of law as it has thus far 

From this intimate connection of law with ethics, which, 
though sometimes frankly explicit, is often unconscious, 
we may infer that theories about the significance and basis 
of law are usually direct reflections of the corresponding 
ethical theories. The older conception of law, which still 
numbers many adherents among juristic savants, by reason 
of the conservative character which legal science owes to 
certain well-known historical conditions, was thoroughly 
individualistic in its point of view. In this respect it is 
a faithful mirror of the individualistic ethics. Where 
the latter makes the moral end the happiness of the in- 
dividual, the former makes the end of law the protection 
of the individual. It is quite possible that these allied 

1 64 The Moral Norms [568-9 

tendencies in ethics and the theory of law may have reacted 
to strengthen each other, especially since they are in them- 
selves concomitant expressions of one and the same theory 
of life. We find in our modern economic theories/with their 
principle of absolute individual autonomy, regulated only 
by the conditions necessary for the protection of all individual 
interests, a third embodiment of this theory of life, and one 
which is the most important of all for practical ethics. Not 
only has man's natural and, within limits, justifiable en- 
deavour to secure his own freedom tended to support these 
views, but their logical clearness and simplicity have won 
them the approval of juristic and economic theorists. Indeed, 
so much stress was laid on the logical advantages of the 
theory that its adherents required the practice of life to be 
ordered in accordance with its logical postulates, — one of 
the most striking examples that history has to show of the 
influence of theory on life. 

It is true that the science of law, whose association with 
history and tradition has always been closer than that of 
the constructions of political economy, has rarely attempted 
to carry its individualistic theory into the practice of public 
law. The revolutionary political theories of the last century, 
which made this attempt in all seriousness, have served as 
deterrent examples. For the most part, one of two courses 
has been adopted. Public law has been left out of account 
altogether, as having nothing to do with the conception of 
law in general, which was derived solely from the com- 
paratively unchanging relationships of private intercourse, 
together with those norms regarding the protection of persons 
and property which are indispensable adjuncts to such inter- 
course. Or else the adherents of the theory have rested 
content with expounding the relations of political law by 
means of analogies drawn from private rights. For instance, 
we find the unity of the State compared, quite in the spirit 

5 6 9-7o] Legal Norms 165 

of the old contract theory, with that of a private corporation ; 
the management of the State's finances with that of an 
association's treasury ; the State itself with a stock company 
or other " legal person/' and the like. 

After what has already been said, no detailed proof of the 
untenable character of this purely individualistic view is 
necessary. It cannot help involving itself in contradictions, 
for it must needs ascribe to the governmental authority 
powers that far exceed those necessary for individual 
protection. And in thus defining the limits of public law, 
as well as in formulating the norms of private law, a certain 
influence is ascribed to historical tradition, whose tendency 
is wholly counter to the general postulate of equality of 
rights. Just as the system of free individual competition, 
maintained by abstract economical theory, leads to individual 
monopolies, so in the case of private rights the theory of 
inherited rights or, as the enormous influence of inheritance 
on property relationships almost justifies us in calling them, 
innate rights, leads to actual inequality of individual rights; 
an inequality that contrasts most forcibly with the formal 
equality required by the theory. Whatever meaning we 
assign to the latter, clearly we cannot make it a shield and 
cloak for the grossest inequality. If the truth were really 
what individualistic ethics and the abstract theory of private 
rights assumes it to be, namely, that all law exists for the 
sake of the individual ; if there were ultimately no rights 
but individual rights, and if social rights existed only so 
far as they were necessary to protect individual rights ; then 
there would have to be a real equality corresponding to 
the formal equality. But since real equality can be brought 
about only by governmental constraint, which would make 
the freedom postulated by the concept of right wholly 
illusory, the individualistic theory is again wrecked on its 
own consequences. As Bentham postulated communism 

1 66 The Moral Norms [570-1 

for the sake of principle, and later rejected it because of 
its injurious results, so the individualistic theory of law, 
in order to get rid of that omnipotence of the State which 
is the prerequisite condition of a real equality of rights, 
has to be satisfied with approximate equality of rights in 
a fraction of the members of the legal community. Such 
are the absurd consequences of a theory that regards human 
society as a sum of completely isolated individuals, who 
are brought into mutual relations merely by external 
accidents, and whose moral function must thus be restricted 
to living, enjoying life where the conditions are favourable, 
and finally dying to make room for others. 

The broader conception of social life and historical 
relations that began to be current in later times necessarily 
influenced the conception of law as well. The schools of 
Hegel and Krause, with their doctrines of the philosophy 
of law, produced a considerable effect in this regard. Hegel, 
especially, contributed more than nowadays he is ordinarily 
credited with towards placing the subject of public law 
in the forefront of interest. On the other hand, of course, 
his confusion of the legal with the moral and the historical 
was scarcely calculated to perfect the clearness of the con- 
ceptions. Law and morality were similarly identified by 
Krause. But Herbart's derivation of law from " the aversion 
to strife'' is a complete relapse into individualism. At 
bottom it was simply the bellum omnium contra omnes 
of Thomas Hobbes, in a new form. This conception wholly 
fails of application to the most important department of law, 
namely, public law. 

But as this department of law, with its positive social 
problems, has come into prominence through the increasing 
activity of public life in modern times and the increasing 
claims of the State on individual functions, a twofold need 
has arisen. On the one hand, the concept of law must be 

57 1-2] Legat Norms 107 

made broad enough to include all these forms; and, on the 
other hand, it must be denned with sufficient precision and 
assigned its proper place in the general sphere of social 
and ethical concepts. There have been two attempts, in 
particular, to supply this need. While both of them assert 
the most intimate connection between law and morality, 
they seek to establish certain marks of difference between 
the two. The theories are further distinguished by the fact 
that the one of them tries to define these characteristic 
marks negatively, the other positively. Law is marked off 
from morality negatively, when it is defined as that social 
ordinance whose end is the defence of society, as a moral 
community, against immorality. On the other hand, it is 
distinguished positively, when certain parts of the totality 
of moral goods are singled out and designated as especially 
to be protected by law. By reason of the great number 
of such goods, this selection, again, can be made only by 
including them in a collective idea, or by discovering a 
secondary mark whereby they may be known. Such a 
collective idea, for instance, is that of "the sum total of 
the conditions necessary to the existence of society." A 
secondary characteristic distinguishing the department of 
law from that of morals is the constraint which law may 
use in maintaining its norms. 

(b) The Protective Theory and the Theory of Constraint. 

■ F. J. Stahl may be regarded as the chief adherent of the 
theory that maintains the negatively moral character of law. 1 
Every institute of law, in his opinion, represents a certain 
moral idea. It is not the function of law, however, to realise 

1 We shall here neglect the specifically theological aspect which, according to 
Stahl, belongs to the concepts of morality and law. What has been said in 
Part II., chap. iv. on the subject of heteronomous systems of ethics must serve as 
a critique of his views on this point. 

1 68 The Moral Norms [572 

the positive content of this idea, but only to maintain the 
concept itself and prevent the admission of its opposite. 
" Thus, for instance, the law that personality must be pro- 
tected does not involve a positive recognition of individuality, 
but merely the negative requirement that the concept of the 
person shall not be destroyed ; for example, that one in- 
dividual shall not receive bodily harm or injury from others. 
The law of marriage does not involve the positive oneness 
and mutual self-sacrifice of the husband and wife, but merely 
prohibits polygamy, adultery, divorce on trivial grounds and 
the like ; that is, it merely postulates the preservation of the 
concept of marriage. And the law of the State involves 
nothing more than obedience, the performance of functions, 
etc. ; it does not require that absolute interpenetration of 
the universal and the individual which Plato and Schelling 
demand of the political order." 1 

This theory starts with noting what is undoubtedly true, 
that the portion of the legal order which is most essential to 
the existence of society consists chiefly in prohibitions, that 
is, in negative norms. Thus positive penal law is largely 
comprised in prohibitions of certain acts ; police control is 
exercised mostly, though not exclusively, in warding off and 
preventing certain disturbances ; and even the law of private 
life protects its institutions chiefly by the method of preven- 
tion, the necessary means for which are supplied by the 
State. Yet even here the function of law is by no means 
merely negative. Even penal law makes certain positive 
requirements, in the form of prescriptions that do not come 
under the head of universal ethical norms. For instance, in 
certain cases it requires the individual to give notice of an 
intended crime that has come to his knowledge, and punishes 
neglect of this requirement. The police deal with a number 

1 Stahl, Philosophie des Reehts, 3rd ed., ii., p. 205. A similar view has 
recently been maintained by A. Lasson, Rechtsphilosophie, pp. 208 ff. 

572-3] Legal Norms 169 

of positive regulations for the protection of health and life. 
And in the law of private life protection against breaches of 
the law is but the negative and reverse aspect of positive 
institutions, whose function as such is in no sense merely- 
negative; which are adapted to protect and advance, not, 
indeed, the whole content of the moral life, but its most 
essential conditions. And how could one possibly restrict to 
purely negative functions the ordinances to regulate legisla- 
tion and administration, which are the basis of all other 
forms of law? As a matter of fact, Stahl's own treatment 
of the subject soon carries him beyond the narrow limits 
that he has laid down for himself; for he calls law "the 
objective ethos," the external and living form of morality. 
And where he restricts this thought by saying that the whole 
of morality is not represented under the form of law, he does 
not really mean merely that law prevents disturbances of the 
moral order; but that it limits itself, in the maintenance of 
this order, to what is indispensable. In this connection he 
himself lays stress on physical constraint as the essential 
difference between law and morals. 1 Here his theory is in 
substantial agreement with that to be propounded below. 

Jhering has given clearest expression to the purely 
social conception of law in defining it as "the securing, 
under the form of constraint, of the vital conditions of 
society." 2 Jellinek furnishes us with a modification of this 
definition, by subtracting the element of constraint, and de- 
fining law objectively as the sum of "conditions necessary 
for the maintenance of society"; subjectively, as "the 
minimum of moral performance and disposition required of 
the members of a society." Both aspects may be combined 
in the single formula that law is " the ethical minimum." 3 

1 Of. cit., p. 197. 

8 Jhering, Zweck im Recht, i., p. 434. 

3 Jellinek, Die social-ethische Bedeutung von Recht, Unrecht und Straf, p. 42. 

170 The Moral Norms [573-4 

It has been objected against the introduction of constraint 
into the first of these definitions, that law will still be law 
if we imagine a community of absolutely virtuous human 
beings, for whom constraint would be superfluous. 1 But the 
argument is unimportant, for all law is human law, and its 
concept cannot be determined with reference to conditions 
under which it never exists. 

We must recognise, however, that constraint is merely a 
secondary mark of distinction, which, while its importance in 
the development of law, and especially in the gradual separa- 
tion of law and morals, should not be underestimated, is yet 
simply a means to the maintenance of law, not law itself. 
Hence its significance for the social theory of law is merely 
that of an accessory factor. The point to be emphasised in 
the definitions which have just been advanced is that law, as 
" the ethical minimum," ensures the moral conditions indis- 
pensable to the life of society." 2 

1 Trendelenburg, Naturrecht aufdem Grunde der Ethik, 2nd ed., p. 89. 

* What has been said above concerning the ethical content of legal norms has 
something in common with the views of Bierling (Zur Kritik der juristischen 
Grundbegriffe, i.,p. 153). Bierling also maintains that, in regard to their content, 
all legal norms may be considered as moral norms. Hence he thinks that the 
distinctive feature of law is to be sought not in its content, but in certain formal 
properties. He believes that the principle of universal recognition supplies a dis- 
tinctive mark applicable to all cases {op. cit. t i., pp. 12, 81 ff., and ii., Appendix B, 
pp. 351 ff.), understanding by universal recognition the continued assent of all 
individuals subject to the law in question. Now, in the first place, it is clear that 
this criterion of recognition would necessarily bring under the concept of law all 
the norms existing in a given community, whether they were moral norms or the 
rules of a society formed for the furtherance of some particular interest. Such a 
state of affairs does not harmonise with the emphasis that Bierling puts on the 
moral significance of all legal norms. Further, the theory finds itself compelled 
to have recourse to fiction, after a highly questionable fashion, when, for instance, 
it supposes unconscious and involuntary recognition of law on the part of children, 
insane persons, and those ignorant of the law. In its treatment of the actual 
facts, the theory, which for the rest contains many acute discussions, is scarcely 
distinguishable from the contract theory. This latter, like Bierling's, does not 
assume a contract actually entered upon, which would suppose a pre-existent law 
of contract ; its hypothesis is rather that of an agreement, partly expressed and 

574-5] Legal Norms 171 

This theory, however, does not seem to meet all the 
requirements of the conception of law as it has developed 
in history. Just as the ordinary conception of the individual, 
which regards him solely from the point of view of private 
right, ignores society as a whole; so here, on the contrary, 
individuals seem to be lost sight of behind society. Yet the 
theory remains individualistic, for it makes society consist 
ultimately in nothing but a sum of individuals. The 
"maximum of happiness," the ultimate end in Bentham's 
ethics, is thus transformed into a kind of "'minimum of 
happiness." The conditions essential to the life of society 
would seem to be assured when law protects each individual 
in his just rights, and where the forms of injustice that 
involve danger to each individual are held in suppression. 
But does the organisation of the legal community really 
terminate in such ends as these? Do they exhaust the 
actual content, more particularly, of the ordinances for the 
development and administration of constitutional laws ? 
The truth is, rather, that all these institutions embody the 
idea of the State as not merely the representative of law, 
but as itself, together with the entire content of its moral 
problems, one of the chief ends of the legal order itself. 

partly tacit, which operates after the fashion of legal contracts subsequently 
made. Bierling agrees with the adherents of the contract theory, finally, in 
regarding the assumption of a social will as a ' fiction,' having no reality what- 
ever. But what does universal recognition amount to, if not a common tendency 
of will, that is, a social will ? The only difference is that, if we acknowledge the 
reality of the social will, it is no longer necessary to make all the individuals in a 
society its representatives : whereas the individualistic theory, which sees in 
society the mere sum of all individuals, must have the agreement of all, either 
under the form of contract or in some other form, to make its norms valid. 
Here, again, we see that the consequences of the individualistic view are always 
the same, whatever external differences may exist in its fundamental ideas. 

172 The Moral Norms [575-6 

(c) Subjective Law, or Right. 

If we start with the immediate subjective significance of 
the term law or right, every objectively recognised claim to 
any good, whether that good is a real thing, or an act on the 
part of some other subject, or one's own act, is a right. 
Hence right, as such, is a privilege, not a norm ; it is ex- 
pressed by a permissive " Thou mayest," not by an imperative 
" Thou shalt." Thus the exercise of a right presupposes free- 
dom of the will in the ethical sense of the term. 1 Children, 
insane and weakminded persons may possess rights, but 
cannot exercise them. In general, the subject of a right 
may be an individual will or a social will. The social will 
of the State is for the legal order at once the most compre- 
hensive and most influential subject, since it regulates and 
protects all individual rights, and since, more particularly, all 
subordinate societies and associations derive from it their 
character as subjects possessing rights. 

To every right there corresponds a duty, which, in order to 
distinguish it from the general concept of moral duty, we 
term more accurately a legal duty. As a rule, however, each 
right has not one, but many duties corresponding to it. 
Further, the subject of the duties may or may not be 
identical with the subject of the right ; or again, as is 
ordinarily the case, the subject of the right may have 
certain duties imposed at once on himself and on other free 
jsubjects by a given right. Thus the political right of 
franchise is at the same time a duty. The subject of the 
right is here identical with the subject of the duty, though 
according to our existing system of arrangements the duty 
is not one of constraint. 

Similarly, the State's right of punishment is a case where 
the subject of the right and that of the duty coincide. The 
1 Cf. chap, i., pp. 37 ff. 

576-7] Legal Norms 173 

State is both : it not only may, but must exercise the penal 
authority. And a series of secondary rights and duties, 
accruing to and devolving upon the judge, the executive 
officials, the culprit himself, result from punishment as 
exercised by the State. It is the duty of the culprit, in 
particular, to submit to the punishment decreed by the 
State ; and it is his right to demand that punishment. The 
criminal may ask for mercy, but to thrust it on him against 
his will violates his acknowledged right. 

The right of private property involves for its possessor 
the free disposition of the object that is recognised as his 
property. For all other persons it involves the duty of 
respecting this right. But here, again, the subjects of the 
duty are not merely those who do not own the property. 
A right that did not include any duty on the part of its 
possessor would be inherently absurd, an offence against 
that legal order which is based on a balance between rights 
and duties. Really, the most conservative theory of property 
recognises the truth of this to a certain degree, for it tries to 
check the use of property for immoral ends, and in some 
cases even limits its useless expenditure. The scope of these 
duties is not a thing to be decided once for all : it depends 
on existing theories of right, and especially on the moral 
spirit that inspires the theories in question. Ethically 
regarded, property can never be looked upon as a good 
that exists for its own sake. Its value will lie in the moral 
duties that it imposes on the possessor of the right. Ap- 
parently, it would always be a good thing if such duties, 
like the political duty of exercising the franchise, were to be 
kept free and voluntary so far as possible. But in both 
these instances such a course is practicable only where we 
can assume that the strength of the motives which operate 
without constraint is sufficient to make it safe for us to 
rely solely upon them ; and where it is apparent that the 

1 74 The Moral Norms [577-8 

moral disadvantages of constraint, which are undoubtedly- 
great, can really be avoided through the influence of such 
motives. In any case, here as elsewhere, we must assert 
the truth that there is no subject of rights who is not at 
the same time a subject of duties ; that rights exist only 
where an individual or social will can both exercise rights 
and assume duties. Doing away with private property 
would be accompanied by the gravest moral evils. It 
would abolish all the benefits to moral culture derived 
from the free intercourse of labour, from the spur to activity 
found in the effort to better one's position in life, and from 
the personal exercise of humanitarian virtues. In like 
manner the State, the community and other corporations 
must have property completely at their disposal to meet 
their collective needs. 

The narrowest form of a social will which is the subject 
at once of rights and of duties is to be found in the family. 
Under the conditions existing among civilised nations 
to-day, the family extends no further than the immediate 
circle of those dwelling beneath the same roof, — husband, 
wife and children. Such institutions as the right of in- 
heritance, that sometimes extends to collateral relatives who 
may never have seen each other in their lives, and who 
have, in any case, absolutely no community of moral duties ; 
and the right of testamentary disposition, whereby the will 
of a person long dead acts as a constraint on remote 
generations ; are anomalies in our existing theory of rights, 
and show the persistent triumph of abstract theory over 
the needs of life. They are in sharp contradiction to that 
principle which is of fundamental import to every moral 
system of law : the principle, namely, that there should be 
no rights where there can be no duties. 1 

1 It seems to me that as regards this point, ethics in its turn cannot do better 
than assent to the conclusions, which are as moderate as they are unprejudiced, 

578] Legal Norms 175 

It is duty that transforms the permissive rule of right into 
the imperative ' ought.' Every man may use his property 
for whatever purpose he himself elects; but other people 
ought not to disturb him in the use of it. Offence against 
such a precept of duty is a transgression. Hence it is not 
against the subjective right itself that one transgresses, but 
against the subjective legal duty implied by the right. 
When the duty corresponding to the right is not legal but 
merely moral, there can be no transgression ; as, for instance, 
in the case of a monarch's right to exercise clemency, and 
the political right of franchise, which latter can be violated 
by others, but not by the subject of the right himself. 
Similarly, property duties, i.e. the duty of using property 
for moral ends, come under the head of moral duties. 
But where there is a positive right corresponding to the 
duty, we cannot draw any permanent distinction between 
moral and legal duties. In such a case it is always a 
question to be decided by special considerations depending 
on time and circumstances, whether the system of law shall 
institute a legal right corresponding to the claim it allows, 
or rest content with a merely moral obligation. 

(d) Objective Right, or Law. 

Subjective right, together with the legal duties dependent 
upon it, both those imposed on the subject of the right 
himself and those imposed on others, constitutes objective 
right, or law. Here, too, we begin with particular rights- 
My objective right of property in a certain thing means 
that I may use it for my own ends, and that it is the duty 
of everyone else to respect this right of mine. But the 
sum of the objective rights valid in a given community is 

reached from the economic standpoint by Ad. Wagner, in his investigation of the 
concept of property. Cf. his AUgemeine Volkswirthschaftskhre, i., pp. 305 ff., 
431 ff. 

176 The Moral Norms [578-9 

objective right, or law, regarded as a collective idea; and 
the sum total of the ordinances made for the maintenance 
of this objective right is the legal order. Of this order 
the State, the highest social will that can act as an unit, 
is the sole representative. Hence objective right and the 
legal order are acts of the State's will. As such they have 
binding force for all individual wills, and for all lower orders 
of the social will that fall under the State. Objective 
right comprises the ends that the will of the State sets 
before itself; the legal order comprises the means by which 
it seeks to realise these ends. 

Three conditions are accordingly necessary for the existence 
of every legal right. 1. There must be a subject of right, a 
being capable of free moral volition, who may be an in- 
dividual will or a social will. 2. There must be subjects 
of duty, for whom the same criteria hold good, and who may 
be identical with or different from the subjects of right. 
3. There must be a social will that takes under its protection 
all subjective rights, ensures the performance of the corre- 
sponding subjective duties, and is thus the representative 
of objective right and of the formulated rules necessary to 
its maintenance ; in other words, of the legal order. 

(e) General Definition of Law. 

Thus far we have been merely limiting the conception of 
law by means of certain formal definitions. Since, however, 
we have postulated a free moral will as the representative 
of law, it is evident that the content of the concept will be 
thereby determined. For the ends towards which such a 
will directs itself must be moral. Hence the end both of 
subjective and of objective law must be thought of as moral. 
While this fact is not, as a rule, directly stated in the special 
formulations of law, it is expressed indirectly. Whenever 
legal formulas have to be interpreted, we find the principle 

S79-8o] Legal Norms 177 

universally recognised that the will embodied in law must 
never be conceived as in opposition to the general norms of 
morality. We must, however, distinguish between law and 
the legal order on this point. The latter may contain many 
special ordinances that have no immediate reference to any 
moral end. The ordering of social life makes it necessary 
to have regulations with reference to certain needs that 
possess in themselves no moral significance. And ends that 
are really moral may be reached in different ways. We 
have here an instance, in the realm of law, of the general 
ethical principle that moral means are always infinitely more 
manifold than moral ends, though the realisation of the latter 
may take on different forms by reason of the diversity of 
the former. But no matter how many morally indifferent 
elements may be included in a given system of law, objective 
right, or law, as a whole, can have no other than a moral 
content. Nay, each individual right deserves the protection 
of law only in so far as it has moral value. 

The fact that there have existed, and may still exist, 
particular laws, and even whole legal institutions, that cannot 
be termed moral, is, of course, no violation of this principle ; 
any more than the actual immorality of many men proves 
that the life of mankind in general is without moral purpose. 
We are, however, too prone to forget the historical point of 
view, especially when we are dealing with institutions that 
once had moral significance, but have now lost it. Slavery, 
for instance, would certainly be an immoral institution nowa- 
days. But no unprejudiced person will deny that it actually 
did important service to morals in ancient times, and that 
the relation itself, in some cases, especially among the Greeks, 
was of value from an ethical point of view. 

Since, then, law always has, or ought to have, a moral 
object, the spirit of morality takes possession even of those 
indifferent elements in the legal order which have in them- 

178 The Moral Norms [580-1 

selves no moral import. They gain such import by being 
introduced, as necessary connecting links, into the structure 
of the system of morality. 

Bearing in mind the ultimate moral purpose of all law, we 
may describe objective right, or law, as the sum total of all 
those various subjective rights and duties which the moral 
will of society, the creator of law, ensures as rights to itself 
and its subordinate individual wills, in order to the fulfil- 
ment of certain purposes ; and imposes as duties, in order 
to the protection of the rights in question. 

This formula does not restrict the nature of law to the 
protection of certain goods, or, what amounts to the same 
thing, the maintenance of the conditions necessary to the 
life of society. Besides protective rights and duties, the 
system of law embraces many institutions which may be 
termed promotive rights and duties. The superintendence 
of instruction, together with certain positive regulations 
for the advancement of material welfare and of the most 
important interests of culture, are duties of equal weight 
with the protection of persons and property, ensured by 
political legislation ; and they are directed only in part 
towards the protection of the existing conditions of life. 
Their aim is in equal measure the improvement of those 
conditions. For social life, like all life, is change and de- 
velopment. Law would be neglecting one of its most 
important functions if it refused to meet the demands of 
this ceaseless evolution. Hence constitutional law makes 
comprehensive provisions for the alteration of existing law 
to suit new needs. But in addition to these arrangements 
for the origin and abolition of laws, the progressive factor 
can never be wholly absent from law as it actually exists. 
Only it will assume various forms according to the current 
way of regarding the function of the legal order. In an 
age that ascribes the prime importance to individual rights, 

581-2] Legal Norms \jg 

the chief task of the system of law will be to remove the 
hindrances that obstruct the free development of per- 
sonal activities. On the other hand, when the social func- 
tions of the State are given a higher rank, the system of 
public law will contain a number of positive and promotive 

This alternative, however, makes no difference with the 
question at issue : the only difference is in regard to the sub- 
jects upon whom the functions are imposed. In the former 
case it is the individuals who assume the duties corresponding 
to the rights allowed them. In the latter case the functions 
in question devolve upon the State itself, or upon subordinate 
bodies appointed for the purpose by the State. In general, 
here as elsewhere, the best division of rights and duties will 
be one that is dependent on the special historical conditions 
of civilisation only so far as its scope is concerned. For what 
the individual can, and as a rule will do, no co-operation on 
the part of the State is necessary. The functions that belong, 
or ought to belong, to the State are essentially those which 
the individual cannot perform, at least as well as the State 
can ; or those which, if he had the power, he would probably 
lack the inclination to assume. 

(/) Justice. 

It is in the proper apportionment of rights and duties 
among the various subjects of law, an apportionment in 
accordance with the existing conditions which govern the life 
of society and humanity at large, that justice (Gerechtigkeit) 
consists ; the virtue whose intimate connection with law 
{Rechf) is expressed in the words themselves. Taken in 
this, its proper significance, it is wholly a public, not a 
private virtue ; though, of course, since public authority must 
needs have personal representatives, it is ultimately exer- 
cised by individuals acting in behalf of the social will. But 

180 The Moral Norms [582-3 

the consciousness that the social will is the real power that 
exercises justice has led men to entrust the more important 
acts of justice, at least, to bodies of persons elected specially 
for the purpose, rather than to individuals. 

Thus the weightier cases in civil and criminal law are 
decided not by a single judge, but by a college of judges ; 
and we often find the matter referred to other courts, in order 
to eliminate the possible influence of purely personal opinion 
within the college, while that uniformity in the pronounce- 
ments of the law which is essential to justice is sought by 
final agreement in a supreme court of appeal. The adminis- 
trative court, the local assembly, the college of ministers, the 
privy council, whose influence on important questions is some- 
times more far-reaching than that of the ministerial college ; 
finally, the diet and representative assemblies having charge 
of legislation and general finance, — all these institutions 
express the idea that justice, in the different departments of 
government and public life, is the function of the social will. 
For the ultimate motive that leads us in all these cases to 
prefer the decision of a body of individuals to that of any one 
individual will is our conviction that the various interests, alike 
of society and of the individual, will be weighed with greater 
justice if the decision is preceded by an exchange of opinions, 
and if it is required to be the joint product of a number 
of wills. At the same time, this is why the decision of such 
corporate wills have more weight and authority; their im- 
personal character obliterates the individual influences that 
combined to produce them. 

The fact that moralists have overlooked the impersonal 
character of justice is closely connected with the difficulties 
that they have encountered in the concept from the time 
of Aristotle to that of Hume. The reason why it is so 
easy to ignore this characteristic is because the will of the 
law is often really embodied in the volition of an individual 

5 8 3-4] Legal Norms 181 

personality, so that its justice depends on the personal 
characteristics of its representative. In this derived sense, 
of course, justice has an individual character ; and we may 
speak, for instance, of one judge as more just than another, 
though both represent one and the same social will. But the 
exercise of justice always presupposes a will that has power 
to impose its standard of rights and duties upon certain 
subjects of law. Where the decision is not accompanied by 
this power ; where, therefore, it is purely theoretical, or where 
it leads merely to an act of subjective judgment, we are 
really using the word justice to express another idea, that 
of equity. 

As justice is a public virtue, so is equity a private virtue. 
Justice indicates to the individual what is due to him by 
right, after a careful balancing of all the rights and duties 
involved. Equity indicates what, under the special circum- 
stances in question, he may desire without infringing on 
the rights of others. Equity may thus grant more than 
justice does. The former is indulgent, the latter stern. In- 
justice, however, is always inequitable. We should treat our 
fellow-men with equity, not merely with justice ; for it is not 
the individual's place to constitute himself the judge of 
others. On the other hand, it is the function of the will 
embodied in law to treat the subjects under its authority 
with justice, not with equity. Its judgments must be made 
without respect to the person or the particular case. Equity, 
on the contrary, takes special account of the person and 
the particular case. Hence the man who is called upon 
to exercise justice should not allow himself to be guided 
solely by equity. Under such circumstances equity may 
lead to injustice, because as soon as the decision is not based 
on the sure foundation principles of law, it is only too easy 
for conditions varying with every chance influence and 
dependent on changeable subjective opinion to get control. 

1 82 The Moral Norms [584 

Thus we are guilty of a complete misunderstanding of the 
function of justice when we give certain institutions, e.g. the 
jury system, preference because we suppose them likely to 
furnish decisions in accordance, not merely with justice, but 
also with equity. Such a view results from the perverted 
conception that regards public acts of law from the point of 
view of the private intercourse of individuals. It would be in 
accordance with equity to judge a person who offends against 
a law he knows nothing about otherwise than a person who 
sins with knowledge. It would be equitable to grant more 
time to an accused person who, through a fatal talent for 
forgetting things, has forfeited the usual period allowed for 
filing his answer to an accusation. In both cases, however, 
justice would usually ignore such considerations of equity, in 
order to prevent injustice. It is only under special circum- 
stances, especially where there is no danger of violating any 
legal duties towards other individuals and towards society, 
or where the legal question is doubtful, that considerations of 
equity come into play alongside of considerations of justice ; 
and at such times the legal formula itself often refers the 
judge to equity. When it does so it leaves the decision 
entirely to his individual opinion, in accordance with the 
subjective character of equity. 

(g) Fundamental and Auxiliary Legal Norms. 

We may designate as legal norms all those norms which 
regulate the exercise of justice by establishing what rights 
and duties shall be assured to the individual by the will 
of society, and what consequences shall be associated with 
the breach of these duties. Since the immediate content of 
these norms consists rather in prescribing duties than in 
granting rights, they should, strictly speaking, be called 
norms of legal duty. As such they differ from the more 
comprehensive norms of moral duty, partly because their 

585] Legal Norms 183 

scope, depending as it does on the special conditions belong- 
ing to the concept of law, is narrower, and partly because, 
as we have seen, the essential nature of law requires them to 
include principles that have no directly ethical content. 
Further, since the duties corresponding to certain laws are 
moral and not legal, we may make a second class of legal 
principles, namely, legal grants or privileges, in addition to 
the norms of legal duty, or, as for the sake of brevity they 
may be called, legal norms. While the number of principles 
in this second class is extremely limited, yet it is evident that 
the correlation of rights and duties requires us to postulate as 
many privileges as there are norms. As a matter of fact, 
there is a privilege corresponding to every legal norm, though 
it is ordinarily left unexpressed. The need of directly formu- 
lating the exact right involved is felt only when there is 
no norm of duty that contains it. Thus, while constitutional 
law finds it necessary to make an express declaration of the 
right of suffrage under definite conditions, penal law does 
not promulgate the protection of persons and property 
directly. It merely implies such protection by threatening 
to punish action directed against the security of either. 

This fact, namely, that the system of law does not ex- 
plicitly formulate all the principles contained in existing 
objective law, is based on a lex parsimonies, which must of 
necessity be adhered to in any field of thought where, as 
in the case of law, the prime object is not theory, but the 
practice of life. The system of law expresses what is 
absolutely indispensable ; it leaves unexpressed what is self- 
evident or what is contained in that which has been already 
expressed. And where two principles stand related as the 
necessary complements of each other, it is generally the one 
which is of greater practical importance that is expressed. 
Certain phenomena, presented in every instance of the 
development of law, and of great moment with reference 

1 84 The Moral Norms [585-6 

to one's conception of the essential nature of legal norms, 
result from these conditions. 

1. In the early stages of the development of law all its 
principles are self-evident. They are the foundation of 
inherited customs ; they are manifested in the habitual 
actions of men, and in the arrangements made for remedying 
or expiating actions that are contrary to the norms. Only 
gradually does it become necessary, on the one hand, to 
state the existing practices of law under the form of definite 
principles, and, on the other, to formulate explicitly new 
statutes having their origin in altered conditions. Thus 
part of the legal norms develop into codified law, while 
there is always a remainder in the form of uncodified law, 
the law of usage. 

2. In this later development of law the prevailing need 
is for a codified formulation of the duties that law imposes. 
As a rule, the corresponding rights are not explicitly stated, 
except where no definite duty, enforceable by coercion, is 
involved, and where, morever, it is essential to the interest 
of society that the right shall be exercised. By far the 
greater part of codified law thus consists in norms of duty, 
imposed by the State partly on itself, partly on subordinate 
social organisations, and partly on individuals. 

3. Further, the norms of duty themselves are not fully 
expressed in codified law, which is rather restricted to the 
formulation of norms that relate to the maintenance of the 
legal order. If, accordingly, we distinguish those rules of 
behaviour which must be directly observed by the community 
and its members as principal norms, while we designate as 
auxiliary norms those precepts intended to ensure the ob- 
servance of such rules, and to avoid the disturbances that 
might arise from their non-observance ; then it is the latter 
that are for the most part expressed in legislation, be- 
cause they alone are of practical importance in maintaining 

5 8 6-7] Legal Norms 185 

the legal order : the principal norms are often left un- 
expressed. The various branches of law, however, are not 
quite uniform in this respect. Generally speaking, when 
the object of law is the protection of rights, legislation is 
restricted to the promulgation of auxiliary norms. This 
is especially the case where the rights to be protected are 
based on universally valid moral norms, or have their source 
in usage of long standing. Thus all penal statutes, and a 
very considerable part of the civil statutes regulating private 
intercourse, are auxiliary norms. On the other hand, where 
the State exercises the duty of furthering certain ends of 
civilisation, as in administrative and constitutional law, 
principal norms and auxiliary norms are both, as a rule, 
expressed. Here, moreover, we are dealing with develop- 
ments in law that are of a more variable character and 
exposed in a far greater degree to the influence of the 
historical conditions of development. 

4. In so far as it is a norm of duty, every legal norm 
contains either a command or a prohibition. Principal and 
auxiliary norms may often supplement each other, the one 
being positive and the other negative. Thus in the case 
of penal law the principal norms are all prohibitions, while 
the auxiliary norms, codified penal laws, are for the most 
part commands. This complementary relationship is based 
on the fact that the principal norm, like the universal moral 
norms, always has a command tacitly involved in its pro- 
hibition ; or, if it is positive in its nature, a prohibition in- 
volved in its command. And here, as elsewhere, the formula- 
tion of legal maxims follows the rule of expressing directly 
only what is indispensably necessary. Codified penal law 
deals with murder, homicide, bodily injury; not with the 
inviolable character of the person, though it tacitly asserts 
the latter by forbidding the former. 

It has remained for the modern science of law to direct 

1 86 The Moral Norms [587-8 

attention towards all those legal maxims which fall outside 
the scope of legislation, and are partly preparatory, partly 
supplementary to it ; which have, however, great importance 
with reference to the continuous development of the legal 
consciousness. This has been done in two ways. First, 
uncodified law, whose actual exercise and recognition gives 
it equal normative force, has been distinguished from codified 
law. And second, codified law has been distinguished from 
the norm, which is often unexpressed. The two points are 
intimately connected, for the unexpressed norms may be 
regarded as a part of uncodified law. 1 

Less emphasis is usually laid on the fact that codified law 
always partakes of the nature of a norm. 2 The real logical 
relation between the norm, ordinarily so called, and the 
formulated law lies in the fact that the former is a principal 
norm and the latter an auxiliary norm, which, of course, 
may, if necessary, include the principal norm either wholly 
or in part. While the principal norm expresses, positively 
or negatively, the object of a piece of legislation, the 
auxiliary norm contains the means through which this end 
may be attained. Since the latter is the only thing essential 
to the maintenance of the legal order, it follows that the 
principal norms may ordinarily be left unexpressed, just 
as we ordinarily waive the consideration of the motives 
and grounds of the legal order. 3 Law as formulated con- 
tains no reference to the motives that might be assigned 
as reasons for its introduction. Such motives, indeed, are 
usually restricted to those which concern changes in previously 
existing laws. Legislative powers leave the investigation of 

1 Cf. Binding, Die Normen und ihre Uebertretung, i., pp. i ff. ; and Hand- 
buck des Strafrechts, i., pp. 155 ff. 

2 Indeed, the fact is often wholly denied : quite wrongly, as it seems to me. 
See especially Zitelmann, Irrtum und Rechts geschdft, chap, iii., pp. 200 ff. 

3 Cf. my Logik, ii., p. 603. 

588-9] Legal Norms 187 

the broader basis of law to the science of jurisprudence ; and 
the latter, when this investigation deals with the ultimate 
moral foundation of the legal order, hands it over to ethics. 

(h) Fundamental Norms of Law. 

Legal duties, the most important of which are simply 
particular applications of moral duties, are, like the latter, 
unlimited in number. This fact makes it the more necessary, 
in both cases, to reduce the innumerable special norms to 
certain fundamental ones. The latter, of course, are used 
in actual life only under special forms, directly in certain 
principal norms, and indirectly in the auxiliary norms that 
serve for the maintenance of the former. Thus, in the realm 
of law as in the broader realm of ethics, the fundamental 
norms are simply abstract generalisations from the manifold 
of concrete legal maxims. On the other hand, however, 
they may be regarded as the tacit presuppositions on which 
the whole structure of law is based ; so that we have another 
instance of a relation like that between axioms and their 
applications in the realm of theory. But it would seem at 
first sight that such a process of discovering fundamental 
norms must be more difficult in the domain of law than in 
that of ethics at large. The efforts of ethical theory have 
for centuries been directed towards establishing those abstract 
principles, or the corresponding duty-concepts, whose various 
particular formulations are to be found in the special moral 
maxims and virtues. On the other hand, owing to causes 
not at all remote in nature, the attention of the science of 
law has been wholly occupied with the systematic working 
out of particular legal concepts. Since it is the auxiliary 
norms that are most important in such a process, juristic 
investigation, properly so called, has been almost entirely 
diverted from the problem of the ultimate basis of the whole 
legal order. As a matter of fact, the problem does not 

1 88 The Moral Norms [589-9° 

belong to the science but to the philosophy of law, or to the 
former only in so far as it is both philosophy and science. 
And the philosophy of law must refer this very problem to 
the principles of general ethics. 

Now we have already seen that every legal norm is a 
precept of duty. Hence the fundamental legal norms will 
be those precepts of duty which have just the same funda- 
mental and universal significance for that external aspect of 
the moral life which is realised in law, that the moral norms 
have for the moral life in general. Hence, again, it is clear 
that legal norms which have no direct moral content, but 
derive their moral significance from the fact that they form 
part of the moral system of law as a whole, can lay no claim 
to be considered fundamental norms. - The real fundamental 
norms of law will be related to the fundamental norms of 
morals precisely as the notion of subjective law, or right, is 
related to that of morality. Now, as we have noted above, 
in the moral realm the concepts of right and duty are not 
correlatives in the sense that the individual may demand as 
a right from others that which he himself performs as a free 
moral duty, but only in the sense that each individual has 
a right to the practice of his own free moral duties, limited 
solely by the right of other individuals to perform theirs. In 
this connection we must recognise as such a subject of rights 
and duties every form of the will, whether individual or 
social. Hence it is an important function of every concrete 
system of law to make a just distribution of rights among 
the individuals and communities under its jurisdiction, — not 
excepting the supreme community which is the representa- 
tive of the legal order itself, namely, the State. 

Now since the special conditions on which this distribution 
of rights depends are variable, evidently law as a whole, 
together with the fundamental norms expressed in it, is 
involved in the ceaseless flux of historical development. 

59°] Legal Norms 189 

After all, though, the variability of the ultimate foundation 
of law is no other than that to which the realisation of moral 
norms is subject. What is moral is never completed ; it is 
always in the process of becoming. Hence our investigation 
of moral norms can never amount to more than the establish- 
ment of those fundamental principles which are recognised 
as valid for the existing stage of moral development. And 
in like manner, whatever fundamental norms of law may be 
discovered are to be regarded simply as those accessible to 
our present knowledge. This does not mean that their 
significance is merely ephemeral. Rather, the constancy and 
regularity of all psychical development are such that the 
present state of things is the ripe fruit of all the develop- 
ment that has gone before and the germ of all that is to 
follow. But there are various stages in the subjective attitude 
of the mind towards a given product set in the stream of 
time. At first, to the eye of prejudice, it seems eternal. A 
more comprehensive survey shows it to be transitory, and 
it is therefore held to have no permanent value. Finally, to 
the far-reaching vision there is discovered an element of 
permanence in all that is transitory ; and what passes away 
is seen to have enduring value as the germ of future evolu- 

In consequence of the great number of external aids that 
are needed to support the system of law, and as a result 
of the greater practical importance of particular precepts 
compared with the ultimate foundations on which they rest, 
even the special and individual norms of law are usually 
hidden from observation. Still more, of course, do the 
fundamental norms to which these refer escape attention. 
This is why in the realm of law what is variable and histori- 
cally conditioned seems so preponderant. Yet we must 
suppose that the fundamental norms of law are no more 
variable than the moral norms. For in the sense maintained 

190 The Moral Norms [59°-' 

above there is a subjective law or right corresponding to 
every moral duty. Hence, while the positive law at any 
given stage may possibly fall short of the legal norm 
postulated by the duties recognised in consciousness, no 
permanent contradiction of this sort can be supposed to 
exist. The subjective law, or right, postulated in the moral 
norms will be related to existing law as a postulate, which 
the future will seek to approach, according as the general 
conceptions of morality get control of the ruling social will 
which brings about the historical changes in law. This view 
of the matter is not to be confused with the old theories 
of natural right, which sought to introduce eternal and un- 
alterable primitive rights into the actual legal system ; thereby 
denying the possibility of development in men's conception 
of law, just as the corresponding tendency in ethics supposed 
moral ideas to be unchanging and incapable of develop- 
ment. To take existing positive law for the realisation of 
the existing conception of law would be really the same 
as deriving all the moral postulates that have been pro- 
duced in our minds by previous moral development from 
moral life as it actually exists. The great motive force that 
governs the historical process of the growth of law is just 
the fact that the actual state of things never fulfils the 
postulates that must be maintained, and that their partial 
fulfilment is always producing new postulates, which in turn 
seek to be realised. 

If, bearing these considerations in mind, we approach the 
question as to the content of the fundamental legal norms, 
there can be no doubt about the answer. The ultimate ends 
of law can be no other than morality itself. Hence the 
content of the legal norms must ultimately agree with that 
of the moral norms. But the latter seek to declare this 
content directly, containing as they do the precepts whose 
observance is necessary to the realisation of the tasks of 

591-2] Legal Norms 191 

morality ; while the fundamental norms of law, on the 
other hand, contain those precepts which the whole moral 
community subject to the legal order must observe, in order 
that all its parts, from the State down to the individual, may 
perform their free moral duties. Thus legal norms, like moral 
norms, are of three kinds : individual, social and humani- 
tarian. But while in the moral realm the immediate subject 
of duty is the individual, the subject referred to in the 
commands of law is the social community. The individual 
is concerned only in so far as he fulfils the legal order upheld 
by the social will. 

This fact suggests the question whether a third kind of 
legal norm is not conceivable, where the subject shall be the 
third member of the series of moral orders, namely, 
humanity. As a matter of fact, the international regula- 
tions, to whose general observance those civilised nations 
whose historical function it is to lead humanity are pledged, 
may be considered as the beginning of such a higher realm 
of law. International law, however, exhibits in its mode of 
origin and acceptation noteworthy points of difference from 
the ordinary system of law, which is associated with political 
unity. Originating in various disconnected articles of agree- 
ment, some of them referring to the facilitation of inter- 
course, others to the protection of individuals beyond the 
boundaries of their own nation, others to the realisation 
of certain humanitarian requirements, many of these norms 
have gradually become a part of the law of general usage. 
The stage of formulated law, usually the concluding stage 
in the formation of law, is here wholly lacking. And for 
this reason the norms of international law have preserved 
a certain characteristic freedom that belongs to no other 
department of law, and is here based on the independence 
of the legal subjects, namely, the various states involved. 
The triumph of the ethical spirit manifested in the forma- 

192 The Moral Norms [592-3 

tion of law is the greater because of this very fact, that the 
universal humanitarian principles governing the intercourse 
of nations, in peace as in war, have begun to assume the 
nature of inviolable norms, whose sole but sufficient guard 
is the moral consciousness of civilised peoples. 


Moral norms are the outcome of a process of development 
that can be traced throughout all the facts of the history 
of morals. Once developed, their function is to react upon 
and direct the forms of actual life from which they sprang. 
Where they have to yield to the ceaseless operation of 
checking and opposing forces, they are but the more insistent 
in raising the question as to how human life, present and 
future, shall be ordered in such a way that the ends which 
are so emphatically indicated by the normative ideas may 
be reached. And this question brings us to the field of 
practical ethics. While theoretical ethics directs its attention 
towards the past, the field of practical ethics is the future. 
After the former has deduced from the history of moral 
ideas the norms that are to guide the development of the 
future, practical ethics seeks, on the one hand, to find what 
means give most promise of helping on this development, 
and, on the other hand, to infer what forms the moral life 
is likely to assume by reason of the moral laws immanent 
in it. 

This subject, inexhaustible as it is in content and scope, 
branching off into many independent fields of thought, we 
shall not attempt to discuss fully in the present exposition, 
even in regard to its most important and fundamental pro- 
blems. We shall merely glance at it, by way of appendix 
to the foregoing attempt at a development of the universal 
and fundamental norms of ethics. 

The method to be followed in our investigation of prac- 

593-4] and the Departments of Moral Life 193 

tical ethics is already indicated by the ever-widening series 
of departments in which moral actions take place. The 
ultimate source of all moral effort is the individual person- 
ality. With the tendencies it derives from the common 
store of the society to which it belongs, and the forces which 
it produces independently, it seeks to react upon that society. 
Although the individual can never be thought of apart from 
the social ground of his existence, yet in a certain sense 
he is a world by himself. He proposes certain ends to 
himself independently, and uses for their realisation means 
peculiar to himself. These means are, chiefly, his property, 
his calling or profession, his position as a citizen, and lastly 
his intellectual culture, a circumstance less external in its 
character than the outward aspects of life, but reacting upon 
and influencing them all. 

The next department of life is society. Though it is 
made up of purely individual wills, these produce in com- 
bination new moral ends in whose fulfilment a social will 
is exercised. Further, all the various organisations which 
are contained in society without any order or system, and 
which therefore, like individuals, often oppose the purposes 
of society, are brought into orderly union by the most 
comprehensive and most powerful of the phenomenal forms 
assumed by a social will, namely, the State. Finally, as in 
the preceding stage the individual forms a single unit in 
society, so the State becomes a social unit in the historical 
union of nations and races, humanity, with its supremely 
comprehensive moral ends. 

Part IV. 






THE moral basis of the possession of material goods 
consists in the double purpose that such possession 
may serve. First, it ensures the security of existence ; and, 
secondly, it affords the means for the external exercise of 
power. Without the preservation of life there can be no 
moral effort ; but in order that moral effort may not succumb 
in the struggle for material needs, one's material possessions 
must represent a certain surplus over and above the necessi- 
ties of life. How great this surplus shall be is a question of 
comparative indifference. The only thing desirable in the 
interests of morality is that the amount shall avoid the two- 
fold extremes of deficiency and excess : the former, because 
the surplus that exists when conditions are favourable may 
be transformed into a deficiency as a result of some chance 
disturbing influence, for which the individual is not re- 
sponsible ; the latter, because where the accumulation of 
wealth is excessive the ability required to apply it for moral 
ends transcends the limited power of the individual. In the 
first case the moral worth of the duty imposed by material 
possessions is too small. In the second case it is too great ; 
the duty can be fulfilled only under unusual conditions and 
by an individual of rare moral gifts. 

The individual's power to choose or create the position in 


198 The Individual Personality [596 

life that is his by virtue of inherited and acquired property- 
is very limited. For the most part this position depends 
on external conditions, on birth and the fortunes of life, and 
on the social and political circumstances in which he lives. 
Especially is it true that his own merit and desert have 
relatively little to do with deciding whether his position 
shall approach the maximum or the minimum of existence. 
This fact increases the moral responsibility resting on society 
as a whole to establish protective regulations that shall 
prevent, so far as possible, the occurrence of either unfortu- 
nate extreme in the matter of the division of property. Such 
regulations, unless we are to risk seriously endangering 
freedom in the acquisition of property — a condition indis- 
pensable to its moral function — must, of course, be indirect 
in character. They may consist partly of arrangements 
which enable everyone who is capable of earning to profit 
by his powers, and which insure him in the event of un- 
deserved misfortune ; partly in legal regulations operating 
against the excessive accumulation of property in the hands 
of individuals. 

The moral influence of property, like the end which it 
serves, is twofold. The process of acquisition is a moralising 
influence, because it incites the individual to work and to the 
steady fulfilment of duty in the service of his calling. This 
first function is exercised, if other conditions are favourable, 
even where the state of a man's possessions approaches the 
minimum of existence, and where his property, since it has to 
be used for the necessaries of life as soon as it is acquired, 
can be turned to no moral purpose. Hence this primary 
effect of property, though it is almost wholly obscured by 
self-seeking motives, is undoubtedly the most important. 
It has done far more to maintain the moral order than wealth 
has, with all that the latter has accomplished by its efforts 
in behalf of society and humanity. 

596-7] Property 1 99 

Yet the importance of the second influence, that of wealth 
or property actually acquired, is not to be underestimated. 
It would be a very undesirable state of affairs morally if 
governmental compulsion had to undertake everything that 
voluntary liberality and spontaneous interest now do for the 
intellectual benefits of life, and might do in far greater 
measure if the rich were as clearly conscious of their moral 
function as one could wish. To compel the performance of 
such acts is surely as undesirable as the transformation of 
voluntary work in any profession into paid labour under 
public supervision. In both cases the very element that is 
of especial moral value is lost, namely, liberty of production. 

It is a necessary consequence of the division of property 
and the concomitant division of material and intellectual 
labour that the two moral effects of property are supple- 
mentary to each other. That is, where property once ac- 
quired furnishes an opportunity for the highest moral 
functions, the ethical influence of the process of acquisition 
itself is diminished. The rich man, while he may ennoble 
by his benefactions the wealth he has inherited, or has 
accumulated under the working of outside forces, cannot 
know the ethical influence of toil, whose effects are the 
blessing of the humble labourer. It is only in a moderate 
station of life, where the individual's earnings are sufficient 
to allow him to use his property for moral ends as well as for 
his own needs, that we find both influences combined. 

Precisely for this reason a moderate station of life is most 
favourable to morality. Fate, rather than any merit of its 
own, has made it least subject to the governance of immoral 
impulses. If a man is poor, and has to struggle for the 
necessaries of life, he easily loses the sense of pleasure in 
his work ; and then, in seeking to find an easier way to 
obtain what fortune has denied him, uses immoral means. 
As for the rich man, the more easily his wealth rolls in, the 

200 The Individual Personality [597-8 

more is he inclined to forget its moral value. He regards it 
as a natural right, without thinking of the duty which this 
right imposes. The poor man tries to get it immorally ; the 
rich man to squander it immorally. Often enough the two 
stages approach each other, for in the play of fortune's 
favours, sought and unsought, the immoral acquisition of 
wealth and its immoral use go hand in hand. There is the 
more necessity that a society such as we must acknowledge 
our own to be, which favours the existence of extremes in 
the matter of property and of sudden transitions from one 
extreme to the other, by reason of the insufficient precaution 
taken against immoral forms of acquisition, should use 
stringent means to render departures from the average 
amount of wealth exceptional. Such measures, of course, 
would not be all-sufficient. In addition, a more moral 
conception of the value of material possessions must take 
the place of the thoughtless notion, still widespread, that 
property is a right to which no duty corresponds. 

And this value consists singly and solely in the fact that 
property is the indispensable means to the production of 
moral ends. Hence that form of acquisition alone is moral 
which is in accord with such ends, and that form of possession 
alone is moral which is morally applied, either directly or 
indirectly (through the creation of that material substructure 
of existence which is essential to moral functions). Every 
instance of the frivolous or useless expenditure of wealth ; 
every case of acquisition that is purposeless, or directed only 
towards the satisfaction of selfish wishes, is an immoral 

It is noteworthy that the public conscience has always a 
sharper eye for immoral forms of acquisition than for im- 
moral forms of use. We shut the thief up in prison ; but 
the wanton spendthrift, who regards his wealth as a licence 
to spend money according to his will and whim, is some- 

59 8 ~9] Occupation 201 

times a highly respected person. This inequality in judg- 
ment is partly based on the consideration, to some extent 
justified, that it is a graver offence to do wrong than not 
to do right. In part, however, its source is surely to be 
found in the belief, not only that the right of property is 
itself inviolable, but that the right of its possessor to use it 
as he likes is also inviolable, — in fact, almost removed from 
the sphere of moral judgment. 


While the possession of material goods is a necessity of 
conscious life, and hence of moral life, which is bound up 
with sensibility, it is no less a moral postulate that every 
man should have an occupation ; that is, that he should 
regard the regular fulfilment of certain moral ends as his 

Ordinarily, material possessions and a man's calling or 
occupation are so far connected that the latter furnishes the 
means of acquiring the former. This connection, however, is 
not a necessary one. One may follow an occupation without 
getting anything in the way of possessions thereby, and even 
in such a way as to involve a sacrifice of material possessions. 
The greatest moral benefactors of mankind did not make 
their calling a source of support, and many a material 
benefactor to his needy fellow-men has made a profession 
out of the benevolent use of his property. For the man of 
average moral capacity, however, one of the best possible 
features of the social order is that it does not leave the 
choice of a calling wholly to individual preferences, but 
regulates it, aside from the influence of example and custom, 
by the necessity of earning a living. 

The moral significance of occupation, like that of property, 
depends on the ends that are served. Every calling is moral 

202 The Individual Personality [599-600 

that furthers moral ends ; whether directly, by immediate 
participation in the moral interests of humanity, of the social 
circle or the state to which the individual belongs ; or in- 
directly, where the ends subserved by the calling help to 
create the material or intellectual substrate that is essential 
to moral culture. In this sense every calling that is in any 
way useful, even that of the labourer struggling for the 
necessaries of life, is moral ; it is a part of the great 
machine of moral forces that go to make up the moral order. 
Moreover, it is evident that we must not take too narrow 
a view here of what constitutes useful work. Not only is 
everything that contributes to intellectual interests a most 
valuable means of developing moral capacities, but, in a 
still more especial sense, art, which elevates and refines the 
emotions, and even play, which by relaxation and rest 
tempers the mind to severer work, may become the objects 
of an occupation that is of great value in the total of human 
functions. From this practical point of view morality and 
utility have sometimes been identified. After what has 
been said on this point, we hardly need to remark that the 
holders of such a position confuse means and end. An 
occupation may serve as a more or less subordinate means 
to moral ends, where the ends it aims at directly are not 
in themselves moral. 1 

Hence an estimate of the moral worth of a given occu- 
pation depends on two considerations : first, what it does 
objectively for the ends of the whole ; and secondly, what it 
does subjectively for the agent himself, in the moral effects 
it has on him. As regards the first estimate, of course, the 
various kinds of occupation will form an infinite series of 
gradations, from those which aim directly at the realisation 
of moral ends, down to the lowest activities of daily life, 

1 Compare on this point the critique of Utilitarianism in Part II., chap, iv., 
pp. 170, 171. 

600-1] Occupation 203 

which can serve only as remote aids to morality. The case 
is quite different with the second or subjective estimate. 
This depends simply upon fidelity to duty, manifested in the 
individual's chosen occupation, no matter what that may be, 
so long as it is moral. There are few aids to individual 
moral training and self-education that can match this in 
importance. And precisely because such is the case, one 
needs a natural moral tact to estimate a man's moral worth, 
not by the importance of his occupation, where external 
fortune may help or hinder him in so large a measure, but 
by the fidelity he exercises in whatever occupation fate or 
free choice has assigned him. 

Again, as regards their subjective aspect, the various kinds 
of occupation differ widely in their fitness to exercise a 
moral influence. And we find that those which are higher 
in the objective scale are precisely the ones most lacking 
in that moral incentive which operates with almost me- 
chanical certainty to strengthen the feeling of duty, and 
with which the most external and material of all occupations, 
manual labour, is especially blessed- The more the work 
of the artist or scholar is left to the free inclination of the 
moment, as regards the mode of its exercise, the greater is 
the tendency to govern action by whim and caprice, rather 
than by real fidelity to duty. That disciplining of the 
character, which the mechanic in large measure owes to 
the nature of his occupation, must often, where the individual 
life-task is determined by a freer exercise of the creative 
power of mind, be gained through a weary battle of the 
wil^ — a battle where many a life succumbs that might not 
have failed of success had it trodden the plain path of a 
simpler calling. Thus, of all occupations, it is manual labour 
and office work, which has other points in common with 
manual labour, and which resembles it in being the fulfil- 
ment of everyday duty with mechanical punctuality in a 

204 The Individual Personality [601 

moderate or even an inferior station of life, — it is these 
occupations that bring with them a sense of pride in one's 
calling, whose happy effects are unsuspected by the courtier 
or artist in the high places of life. The moral order has 
thus its own justice. Where the objective moral results that 
the individual can produce are but small, it ordains that 
the subjective moral values and the moral satisfaction that 
goes along with them shall be greatest. How short-sighted 
is the judgment of the crowd, which looks only at outward 
results, on the happiness and unhappiness of existence! 
The great artist pays with his own peace of soul for the 
immortal creations which in happy moments he wrests from 
his genius. And the man whose occupation is severe and 
simple labour feels, in his enjoyment of a work of art, the 
real happiness that the artist can create for others, never 
for himself. 

One of the worst moral features of our present state of 
society, a feature, moreover, that goes along with certain 
other evils, is the tendency nowadays to do away with 
manual labour, that bulwark of the spirit of honourable toil ; 
or, where manual labour is allowed to continue, to pervert 
its moral influence by loosening the ties between fellow- 
workmen, especially between the independent artisan and 
his assistants, and by organising all labour after a purely 
mechanical fashion. It is doubtful whether manual labour 
will ever be able to free itself from these conditions, which in 
their present form are morally indefensible. Perhaps the 
government official, whose field of work is constantly widen- 
ing as the scope of the State's functions increases, is destined 
in time to take the artisan's place in the moral economy ; 
and the private sense of the dignity of his calling, once the 
labourer's peculiar possession, may thus be strengthened by 
the sentiment of public duty. 

While a man's occupation is thus so powerful an educative 

601-2] Occupation 205 

force in the moral world, want of occupation is equally 
powerful as a cause of immorality. It is the worse in this 
respect because it is by far the most frequent cause. And 
we may note, as a fact of moral import, that want of 
occupation is ordinarily found under the two most dangerous 
property conditions, the maximum and minimum of 
existence. The needy man is driven to idleness by despair 
and the degeneracy that comes with want ; the rich man 
by satiety and the spirit of pleasure-seeking that grows 
with the means of satisfying it. The matter seldom stops 
there. The impulse to activity, deep-rooted in man's nature, 
joined with necessity in the case of the poor man, and 
acquisitiveness, increased by satisfaction, in the case of the 
rich, gives rise to immoral occupations. These, while they 
may differ in form according to the agent's situation in 
life, are alike in their final outcome, the production of 
crime. It is an inevitable consequence of his position that 
the poor man should be, as a rule, the first to come into 
conflict with the legal order. The rich man has at his 
disposal so many means of satisfying his immoral desires, 
in ways which are allowable, or at least not punishable, that 
for the most part nothing but the inexorable consequences 
of his own moral guilt can drive him to actual crime. 
Nor can we defend modern society against the charge of an 
injustice in its moral judgments here, like that which we 
found in its judgments concerning the immoral acquisition 
and use of property. Perhaps it is an unfair proverb 
which tells us that men hang the little rascals and let the 
big ones go free. Real crime, thanks to the more liberal 
sentiment of law in our times, is nearly always prosecuted 
with justice, and, where it is discovered, visited with punish- 
ment. But our conscience is as yet all too dull where 
moral offences are concerned whose nature is such that 
they cannot be punished, because they violate no expressed 

206 The Individual Personality [602-3 

law. The most effective means of sharpening the public 
conscience in this respect would be one that must be used 
with care, if the blessings of liberty are to be preserved: 
namely, legislative enactments against the immoral use of 
liberty. If usury and gambling are punished, the usurer and 
the gambler will cease to belong to that society which is 
called respectable, often by a curious perversion of the 
term. In such cases it is really not so much the punish- 
ment as the fact of legal taboo that exerts a purifying 
moral influence. 

Another important regulation, adapted not so much to 
check immoral occupations as to prevent the immoral 
conduct of modes of acquisition and employment that are 
right in themselves, is the transfer of such employments 
from the control of private individuals to that of public 
corporations, the State in particular. This method must be 
regarded as a final and radical means of reform, to be used 
especially where the form of occupation, as is often the 
case with manufacturers, tempts the individual who enters 
upon it to make immoderate and therefore immoral profit 
out of the powers of other men ; and where public super- 
vision and protection are not sufficiently practicable. Forms 
of occupation that, when carried on by individuals, inevitably 
bring about immoral results should cease to exist as forms 
of individual occupation. 


Every member of society who has entered into the full 
and free possession of his rights has, besides his personal 
occupation, a public calling. Ordinarily we speak of public 
occupations only where the personal profession is one that 
serves the ends of public life, as, for instance, in the case 
of the head of the State, or of State and district officials, 

603-4] Civic Position 207 

parliamentary representatives, and the like. To a certain 
degree, however, it is a part of the occupation of every inde- 
pendent member of the community to exercise the civic 
rights and assume the civic duties that belong to him. 

A man's position as a citizen, which is thus seen to 
consist in certain social rights and duties, depends in its 
general features on his property, and in its details on his 
personal occupation. In the present social order property 
is of decisive importance; for society to-day is, in many 
of the features of public law, as well as in its customs and 
usages, still governed by the principle that the individual's 
rights and duties should depend on the power to perform 
public services of a material character that remains to him 
after he has performed the social duties imposed on him 
by his occupation. Where all a man's labour is exhausted 
in satisfying daily needs, there is little room left for public 
interests. Hence, at least for a long period of political 
development, the citizens of a state are divided, according 
to the amount of their property, into two classes : those 
who have political influence and those who have none. 
Within the former, again, we distinguish the governing 
class, though the line of distinction is not very sharply 
marked ; and the personal occupation of the governing 
class is, wholly or in part, a public function of supreme 

It is natural, however, that a division of classes on the 
basis of property should not be permanent. Those who 
have no influence try to get it. So long as this effort is 
unaccompanied by any improvement in their financial 
position it is a source of social discords, whose gravity is 
increased by the fact that the claimants are unable to 
perform public services proportioned to the influence they 
seek. Hence it is only by a general improvement of 
property conditions that the lower classes can gradually 

208 The Individual Personality [604-5 

attain a situation in life calculated to give greater weight 
to their political claims. Meanwhile, however, the original 
scale of civic position, dependent wholly on property- 
relations, is attacked from another quarter. At the present 
time the majority of the ruling class are men of moderate 
wealth. This means that occupation has already proved 
more influential than property in determining a man's 
position as a citizen. And if, as we may hope it will, the 
future sees a still closer approach to equality in the matter 
of property, at least in the sense of doing away with the 
minimum of property, which is morally the more dangerous 
of the two extremes ; then in all probability the mode of 
determining a man's position as a citizen which makes 
property the sole test will be completely superseded by 
another, where the test is solely occupation. Our present 
system of society bears distinctly the marks of a transition 
period, in which, however, there is already a prevailing 
tendency towards a classification based on occupation. 

That a man's personal calling determines his position as 
a citizen, and that consequently certain differences in both 
will continue to exist, is as inviolable a law of human society 
as that law of the physical organism, according to which 
different organs fulfil different functions, and hence exert 
different influences on the whole. And it is a man's personal 
occupation, far more than his property, that influences his 
capacity for public function, because upon it depends his 
possession of the information and powers required to judge 
public affairs and to take an active part in them if necessary. 

We see, then, that the standard which determines the 
general nature of the rights and duties that belong to an 
individual by virtue of his civic position is variable, and 
to be determined by the capacity for political function 
possessed by a given kind of occupation, rather than by 
any abstract requirements. Similarly, the sentiment of 

60s] Civic Position 209 

political duty, with the moral effect that it exerts on the 
personality, cannot be absolutely constant. It is naturally 
most developed where a man's public occupation and his 
private occupation are the same. Hence positions of this 
nature are especially fitted to keep the sense of duty and 
public spirit constantly alive; and the more influence and 
responsibility a man has, the greater the moral effect upon 
him. It would be absurd to expect from the humble labour- 
ing man, or the artist living in a world of fancies, the same 
incessantly active interest in questions affecting the general 
welfare that is the bounden duty of public officials and 

The development of political virtues through the influence 
of certain professions thus appears to partake of the nature 
of a special privilege belonging to certain favoured in- 
dividuals. It is the more important that there should exist 
certain duties and rights which are common to all citizens, 
and which from time to time recall his public function to 
each individual. We find the rule holding good here that 
the greater the duty imposed on the individual, the stronger 
will be the tie of moral sentiment that binds him to the 
object of his duty. This rule is strikingly confirmed by 
the enormous differences that exist in the ethical influence 
exerted by the various civic rights and duties on the develop- 
ment of public spirit and patriotism. The exercise of the 
franchise, the payment of taxes, the duty of assuming certain 
honorary offices have ordinarily, aside from the fact that they 
are for the most part restricted to certain classes, a doubtful 
influence, because many of these duties are merely tem- 
porary, while others, like taxation, emphasise the personally 
onerous aspect of duty. So that it is certainly a mistaken 
speculation that expects an increase of patriotism to result 
from imposing on the poorest classes the duty of paying 

210 The Individual Personality [605-6 

There is but one civic duty that possesses in the highest 
degree the property of arousing, by the kind of activity it 
requires, sentiments of self-sacrifice that are strong enough 
to restrain the opposite inclinations, which, of course, are 
not lacking even here. This is the duty of military service 
for one's country, and it involves one of the greatest of 
political rights, that of protecting the State and of using 
force as a necessary means to this end, a means forbidden 
to the peaceful citizen. Of course, however, military service 
exerts this influence only where it is an universal duty, whose 
burdens and dangers are shared alike by all citizens, whatever 
their other occupations. 

Whether the dream of eternal peace, which will do away 
with this duty, is ever to be realised, need not be here 
discussed. 1 This much, at least, is certain, that the pro- 
duction of such a state of things would be hardly desirable, 
unless we could find some other means of filling the lack 
in the education of the patriot that would be produced 
if serious military service and constant readiness to fight 
for one's country were to be done away with. It is indeed 
earnestly to be desired that such a means may be gradually 
produced, as the nation's moral and political education gains 
in breadth and maturity. So long, however, as such an ideal 
education does not exist, we must acknowledge that the evils 
of war are probably of less weight than would be the loss 
of the most powerful means of producing the sentiment of 
patriotic duty. It may be that here, as elsewhere, the end 
will vanish when the means becomes unnecessary. If eternal 
peace is realised, the heightened sentiment of law and justice 
that is presupposed by such a state of things will surely be 
accompanied by a more universal sense of political duty, 
which can flourish without external means of education. 

1 Cf. on this subject below, chap. iv. , 2. 

606-7] Intellectual Cultivation 211 


Like his position as a citizen, a man's share in universal 
intellectual interests is largely determined by his property 
and his occupation. A surplus of material goods over and 
above what is needed to support existence is indispensable 
for the development of any intellectual interests whatever. 
And a man's occupation must not absorb all his time and 
energy, if the intellectual life is not to be starved despite 
the existence of a surplus of material wealth. From the 
point of view of the individual, then, the social order must 
meet a certain requirement if it is to be a moral order. 
It must assure to everyone who does not wilfully abstain 
from honest labour the possibility of an existence not 
devoid of the intellectual blessings of life. Not only must 
the State take care to preserve to those in its own employ 
the freedom requisite to a share in intellectual interests : it 
must exercise this kind of protective supervision over private 
labour as well. 

Intellectual cultivation, however, like property and em- 
ployment, must differ for different men. Differences of 
disposition, of property and of profession have their say 
here. Thus, in general, the moral worth of intellectual 
interests consists not in their scope, but in the energy with 
which they are applied to the formation of character. 
Intellectual goods are like material goods in this respect. 
Just as the humble labourer is often more content in the 
enjoyment of his moderate income than the millionaire 
merchant whose cares and duties increase with the amount 
of his possessions, so the man who is physically and in- 
tellectually poor may get more uplift from devotion to the 
simplest religious ideas than the rich man in the high places 
of life gets from his treasures of art and literature. Not 
where, with what comprehensive breadth and in what fields, 

212 The Individual Personality [607-8 

the individual shares the intellectual life of humanity, but 
how, with what earnestness and inner fruitfulness, — that is 
the question that decides the moral worth of his culture. 
For upon this alone depends the moral disposition, and 
hence the happiness that results from his share in intellectual 

It is from this point of view that we must judge the stages 
through which man's partaking in general intellectual in- 
terests, like the intellectual life itself, develops. The first 
and most universal of these stages is that of the religious 
interest. It is under the garb of religion that mankind first 
encounters ideas and problems which transcend the limited 
horizon of daily life. Religion, moreover, is always the point 
where the man who is debarred from all higher interests 
of intellectual culture can meet his fellow -men. Hence, 
except where it is made to serve worldly and foreign ends, 
religion intentionally sets aside all barriers between the rich 
and the poor, the high and the low, the learned and the 
ignorant. It preaches to every mind that truth beyond 
which science can never go, namely, that the individual lives 
not for himself alone, but that his individual existence be- 
longs to an universal psychical commonwealth, that his finite 
ends serve infinite ends whose ultimate fulfilment is hidden 
from his eyes. It expresses this truth veiled in symbols 
for the most part ; yet the impression would be no more 
certain if its speech were that of fullest knowledge. Hence, 
if religion ever finishes its mission in the moral education 
of mankind, it will still be indispensable to cement the 
intellectual union of humanity and to promulgate the 
greatest of all moral truths, without which no life would 
be worth living. 

Next to religion in the series of intellectual interests 
stands art. Here, again, we have, in the simpler forms of 
art, an influence that may be widely diffused and affect men 

608-9] Intellectual Cultivation 213 

of all professions and occupations, though certain specific 
conditions of preparatory instruction, which are not equally 
open to all kinds of occupation, do count for more in art 
than in religion. While, then, we must regard it as a public 
duty, unfortunately too much neglected in our age, to make 
art the common possession of all so far as possible, yet, 
as a result of the immense variety of forms assumed by 
creative art, from the simplest to the most complex, a 
variety which makes the conditions of its understanding 
and enjoyment extremely diverse, not every work of art 
can be enjoyed by all. Foremost among the kinds of art 
that appeal to everybody are those which are associated 
with common religious ideas or with the common stock of 
national memories. Subjects taken from religion and from 
the nation's history have another advantage : the true work 
of art in this field appeals to all stages of intellectual culture. 
It arouses in all individuals feelings of similar tendency, by 
reason of the nature of the object represented. But each 
man gives to these feelings a form suited to his own degree 
of cultivation. A higher grade of culture adds much that 
is lacking to the less cultivated artistic sense. On the other 
hand, the latter has a freshness and force of feeling that 
richly compensates for any loss incurred through ignorance. 
The third stage of intellectual interests is that of science. 
The nature of science makes it the most exclusive of all 
means of intellectual cultivation. Whole departments of 
science require a degree of intellectual exertion and a 
concentration of labour that limit even their receptive 
appropriation to a small minority of persons. The dis- 
advantage of this state of things is not only that it excludes 
many people altogether from certain fields of intellectual 
interest. What is perhaps still worse, the exertion required 
in scientific work has a tendency to make the practice of 
science as a profession rather a form of manual labour than 

214 The Individual Personality [609-10 

a free intellectual activity. Now the objects of universal 
intellectual interest — religion, art, and science — cannot bear 
being turned into manual employments without losing their 
true value. Religion becomes a trade, an external formalism ; 
art and science are transformed, the first frankly and openly, 
the second secretly, into actual manual labour. As such, 
they may be useful in furthering the exercise of intellectual 
interests in everyday life, scientific manual labour especially, 
because of the help it furnishes to real science ; but they 
have no true share in these interests themselves. The fact 
is universally recognised in the case of art, but our estimate 
of science still labours under the influence of an utilitarian 
conception of life. The worst effects of this conception are 
to be found where it invades the realm of education and 
instruction. Their object is supposed to be not the develop- 
ment of the child into a man and a citizen, but his equipment 
from the start, so far as possible, with the powers and skill 
necessary in his future occupation. Such equipment is, 
indeed, an indispensable result of education, but it should 
never be the chief aim of intellectual cultivation. The true 
object of education is to make the individual participate, 
so far as he has the capacity, in the intellectual treasures 
that have been produced and stored up for future develop- 
ment by the intellectual labours of humanity as a whole 
and of his own nation in particular. When instruction thus 
supplies a basis of broadly human and national culture for 
the future superstructure of professional training, it has the 
power to make the individual a member of the moral 
community. Thus only can it further that identity of in- 
tellectual aims, which is a necessary condition of moral 
equality, and before which all differences in property, 
occupation and civic position vanish. 

Many departments of science, like philosophy, the higher 
mathematics, and philology, are open only to the few. Yet 

6io-u] Intellectual Cultivation 215 

in science, as in art, there are certain objects which may- 
represent and further an intellectual interest that is common 
to all. To have- no conception of the course of natural events 
in which he is himself involved ; to be ignorant of the civil 
order to which he belongs and its relation to other orders 
of human society ; to know nothing of the previous history 
of his own nation and the whole past of humanity as 
illuminated by the light of culture, — ignorance such as this 
a man who laid any claim at all to intellectual interests 
would feel to be unworthy of him. Natural science, political 
science, and history are the three departments that should 
furnish the basis of a true general culture. The higher 
grades of mankind, those who are called by their position 
and influence as citizens to a more comprehensive mastery 
of intellectual instruments, may add philosophy, philology, 
and the history of civilisation. These should, of course, ac- 
company a deeper insight into the three most general depart- 
ments of culture above named, especially the sciences which 
lie nearest the individual's own profession or the field of 
thought to which it introduces him. Undeniably, even 
among the so-called cultured classes, we are pretty far 
removed from a state of affairs that is satisfying to the most 
moderate expectations in this respect. There are many 
people, not only among the educated, but even among the 
learned, who know little more of nature than what strikes 
their senses directly ; whose knowledge of the State is con- 
fined to what they learn from a hastily skimmed newspaper, 
and whose acquaintance with history consists of their scanty 
recollections of what they were taught in school. 

The moral influence of these three fundamental depart- 
ments of general culture is essentially different. Natural 
science, which leads the mind to trace the unbroken chain 
of natural causality, arouses the sense of stern fidelity to 
law and heightens the ethical aspect of the aesthetic influence 

216 The Individual Personality [6n 

of nature, since the impression of the whole is strengthened 
by intelligent attention to details. Political science gives 
a higher value to the duties of the citizen, which might other- 
wise be performed with the thoughtlessness of habit. It 
helps us to regard every personal function from the point 
of view of the wider purpose served thereby. History, 
finally, extends the individual's share in the interests of the 
whole beyond the horizon of the immediate present. It 
gives us a glimpse of that supreme intellectual community in 
which all individual life and effort are contained. Thus each 
of these three great departments of knowledge is intimately 
connected with one of the three main aspects of the moral 
life. The study of nature serves, where it is something more 
than an external and mechanical exercise of the memory 
and the understanding, chiefly to further subjective moral 
development. Political science educates the sense of general 
social duty. But history takes all the moral powers under 
its charge, for it brings before our consciousness the idea of 
the moral development of universal humanity in the midst 
of all the varying fortunes of individuals and nations. 

The departments of knowledge that we have designated as 
the bases of higher culture, namely, philosophy, philology, 
and the history of civilisation, add no essentially new ethical 
elements to those contained in the necessary foundations 
of all intellectual culture, natural science, political science, 
and history. But since they give us a more comprehensive 
and detailed picture of nature and intellectual life, they 
increase the force of its moral effect and bring to clearer 
consciousness the influences that were more instinctive in the 
earlier stages of culture. Thus philology, both in itself and 
in the treasures of thought and artistic creation that it dis- 
closes, has the peculiar power of introducing us directly into 
the intellectual world of foreign peoples and remote ages. 
Through the history of civilisation — using the term in that 

6 1 2] Intellectual Cultivation 217 

broader and more exhaustive sense which includes the history 
of art and science — the picture of the world's past gains a 
richer background and a more lifelike aspect, and thus we 
obtain a deeper insight into the supremacy of historical laws. 
Philosophy, finally, leads contemplation to its ultimate height, 
from which the individual, without losing his significance as 
such, ceases to be a separate entity, and finds his place in 
a general ethical theory of the universe. Philosophy gives a 
conscious formulation to those truths concerning nature as 
a whole and the coherence of history, which were rather 
hinted at than really understood in the earlier stages of 
culture. Thus, while philosophy, of all sciences, is most 
distinctly a privilege of the few, it is yet indispensable to 
the completion of the highest culture. And there is no more 
striking symptom of misdirected culture than the fact that 
the majority of educated people cultivate a form of philo- 
sophy which they do not themselves understand, or else a 
kind that is only too easy to understand ; * while the so-called 
savants get on without any philosophy at all, which means, 
of course, that their occasional philosophising is done through 
the narrow little window from which they regard the world. 

Religion, art and science thus mark the three stages in the 
general development of the intellectual life, through which 
individuals and nations successively come into touch with 
intellectual interests. But we must not, of course, take this 
series to mean that the previous stage ceases to exist when 
the next one comes into being or reaches its fuller develop- 
ment. On the contrary, the history of civilisation shows 
impressively, not only that the later stage always draws the 
stimulus and incentive to its development from the foregoing 

1 Such philosophy sometimes goes by the appropriate name of fashionable 
philosophy. Who would venture to speak of fashionable physics or astronomy ? 
A more annihilating sentence could not be passed on any science than to treat 
it from the standpoint of fashion, — that most ephemeral, worthless and degenerate 
scion of custom. 

218 The Individual Personality [612-3 

stage, but that it reacts upon the latter as a helping and guid- 
ing influence. Thus art took its rise from the cult of religion, 
and is always deriving new and powerful motives from re- 
ligious sources. Moreover, it has in no small measure reacted 
upon religious sentiments to ennoble and clarify them. Who 
could wish to dispense with the wealth of stimulus and feeling 
that religion has derived from architecture, music and poetry ? 
Similarly, while science originally sprang from religious soil, 
the intellectual recasting of religious problems is more than 
what it often seems to a superficial consideration, — one of the 
mightiest weapons against the bondage of religious tradition. 
Religion and science have an immense positive influence upon 
each other, which is obscured by the strife against outworn 
religious ideas. The whole mode of thought in modern 
metaphysics, from Descartes on, is affected by the theological 
speculation of the preceding age. Anyone who can see the 
deeper meaning of conceptions through their outer form may 
trace the profound influence of the spirit of religious devotion 
even upon a thinker so independent as Spinoza. Only the 
man who refuses to recognise that religion is developing and 
constantly adapting itself to the other conditions of in- 
tellectual life can ignore the fact that religious feeling is 
always deriving new incentives from scientific thought. It 
is through the agency of science, and primarily of philosophy, 
that the continuous process of transforming religious ideas 
takes place. The Reformation, the greatest manifestation 
of the influence of science to be found in modern times, is 
especial evidence of the truth of this statement. 

We need hardly emphasise further the analogous relations 
of mutual helpfulness existing between art and science, for 
they are universally recognised. What immense fields for 
artistic creation have been opened by history alone ! And 
in understanding the inner connection of characters and 
events in history, the artistic form of conception anticipates 

613-4] Intellectual Cultivation 219 

with a sure instinct what later investigation can but 
laboriously confirm. Art, giving life and reality to nature 
and history, not only arouses interest in the object it deals 
with, but gives us a grasp of the whole ; while the labour 
of the understanding is too apt to disintegrate the whole into 
its "separate parts. Thus, in all regions of science where 
the purpose is the reconstruction of reality in an intellectual 
synthesis, and not merely the laborious analysis of per- 
ceptions and concepts, scientific activity is at the same time 
artistic activity. And even in the other departments of 
science, the man who does not experience a breath of 
artistic inspiration, at least in the representation of his 
discoveries, remains a mere manual labourer. 

It is a noteworthy fact that, despite the undoubted 
existence of these reciprocal relations between religion, 
art and science, one of the three, religion, should be re- 
garded as gradually disappearing from the intellectual life. 
It is held that the stage of intellectual interest which finds 
its satisfaction exclusively in the religious activities of the 
mind is dying out. Art and science, it is thought, are filling 
the vacancy thus arising, and will, of course, free themselves 
from the manifold relations that now bind them to the 
religious life. We need not here investigate the question 
as to whether such a result would not deprive art, especially, 
of its most valuable productions; whether church music, 
for instance, as a mere reminiscence of a feeling now become 
foreign to the listener's nature, would have a power at all 
comparable to that of the true sensation. Nor shall we 
go into the still more uncertain question whether such a 
state of universal artistic and scientific culture as is here 
assumed would be possible, and whether the "ideal state" 
thus contemplated would not mean in effect that we should 
add nothing to what the intellectually rich already possessed, 
while we took away from the intellectually poor all that 

220 The Individual Personality [614-5 

he had. The essential point consists not in these results, 
which, however lamentable they might be, would have to 
be endured. The fundamental error is rather the opinion 
that religion is a primitive mode of thought destined to be 
supplanted by science. This is true only of the non- 
religious elements of myth, not of religion itself. Moral 
introspection shows that religious ideas, whose tendency 
to free themselves from their mythical garb, though slower 
in operation, is precisely analogous to that of scientific 
ideas, constitute an intellectual realm of independent and 
permanent value. Ethics, if it undertakes to trace out the 
ultimate and permanent sources of morality, instead of 
limiting its attention to the merely individual and outward 
phenomenal forms, must recognise that the most enduring 
of all moral springs of action, that which determines the 
direction of all individual and social efforts, is the striving 
after an ideal, towards which the reality created by moral 
action approximates, but to which it can never attain. The 
ideal thus becomes transcendent, yet always immanent in 
the human mind through the moral impulses. In the 
development of the moral spirit of humanity it approaches 
its fulfilment by an infinite progressus. 

Now religion always represents the transcendent moral 
ideal in a form corresponding to the existing stage of 
morality and intellectual culture. Since religion belongs 
to the world of human ideas, it is necessarily subject to the 
defects that belong to the real moral world. But its ideal 
is always more nearly perfect than the reality ; and hence 
the common and inalienable characteristic of all stages of 
religious development is the thought that there must be 
an ideal to which reality never attains. Though philo- 
sophical ethics may end by holding that the only real 
significance of the moral ideal consists in the ceaseless 
effort towards it, yet the ideal itself is not thereby destroyed. 

615-6] Intellectual Cultivation 221 

Such a conception only serves to connect the living reality 
more intimately with the ideal world of religion, and thus 
to ensure to the latter its purely ideal value. 

There are two principal and evident reasons for the 
unmistakable fact that religion, of all intellectual interests, 
is most in danger of being suppressed by the advance of 
other means of intellectual culture. The first of these is 
the tendency of artistic and scientific interests to become 
superficial. It is precisely here that the closer connection 
between these various sides of the intellectual life is 
especially apparent. The deeper our certainty that true 
science and true artistic enjoyment lead back to religion, 
the easier it is to understand why superficial and half-way 
knowledge, and that misuse of art which makes it a mere 
plaything and pastime, should have the opposite result. All 
reasonable educators, at least, though their practice is often 
much at fault, are theoretically agreed that polymathy and 
technical preparation for practical occupations are not the 
main object of scientific education. But art, and especially 
that form of it which is most popular and has the greatest 
moral influence, namely, dramatic art, is treated, if not 
actually regarded, by the State and by private individuals 
as a mere idle pastime. 

A second reason, deeper -lying and apparently harder 
to remove, for the alienation of religion from the other 
two departments of intellectual interest is to be found, not 
in the misuse of the latter, but in the way in which religion 
itself is conceived. In the case of really great works of 
art, which furnish enjoyment and uplift to all, whatever 
their degree of cultivation, no one demands that all men 
shall feel and think exactly alike about them. While we 
recognise the moral significance of the study of history^ as 
a branch of knowledge having the highest cultural value 
for men of all stations in life, it would be absurd to require 

222 The Individual Personality [616-7 

that the man of science, who devotes thorough and critical 
study to it, and the labouring man who uses it as a means 
of rising above the sphere of his daily life, should regard 
it from the same point of view. Yet many people exclude 
from religion the principle that is self-evident in art and 
science, namely, the adaptation of the mode of conceiving a 
subject to the individual's grade of cultivation. Religion, it is 
thought, must be the same for all, not only in the fundamental 
moral ideas which are its basis, but in the special formulation 
that may be given to these ideas. Nay, it must be the same 
to-day as it was for our ancestors centuries ago. People 
are narrow-minded enough to think that religion might lose 
something if her ideas were to broaden and deepen as 
the intellectual horizon expands. Yet science and art show 
us how the enduring value of religious conceptions might 
be maintained without imposing on thought and feeling 
the burden of ideas themselves indifferent to the matter 
at issue. For science tells us that dogma is a mode 
of thinking which is variable, and has arisen under definite 
historical conditions ; that the only germ of real value in 
it is the moral idea, which is the real impelling force, often 
long unrecognised, in religious thought itself. Art, on the 
other hand, leads us to the thought that religious ideas are 
symbols, dependent partly on aesthetic motives, partly on 
other considerations foreign to religion itself; that as 
symbols they give to religious ideas a form that is adapted 
to the existing state of belief and knowledge. Because 
religious ideas have this character ; because, while the more 
naive way of regarding them takes them for realities, a 
higher stage of culture discovers their symbolic nature ; 
there is suggested the possibility of uniting men of the most 
widely different degrees of cultivation into one religious 
faith without exacting a sacrificium intellectus from the in- 

6 17] Intellectual Cultivation 223 

It is undoubtedly true that the significance of each of these 
four factors — property, occupation, position and intellectual 
culture — for the relation between the individual and society 
has varied. At first property determines everything ; occupa- 
tion and civic position are inherited along with property. 
These circumstances decide the amount of intellectual cul- 
ture that the individual can acquire, in the sense that culture 
is the exclusive privilege of the well-to-do and influential. 
But there has been a gradual change in this respect, during 
the last century especially. The weight of influence has 
shifted from property to occupation, and in both of these 
from inherited to acquired advantages, though the old state 
of affairs still persists to a certain extent as a result of the 
inheritance of property and the influence of the family and 
of education. A second transition is already preparing : 
that from the estimation of men according to their occupa- 
tion to the estimation of them by the degree of intellectual 
culture they possess. This fact is evident from the rules 
that custom imposes on social intercourse. It is true, of 
course, that in such intercourse property and civic position 
play a not inconsiderable role even nowadays. Many an 
otherwise reasonable man counts it an honour to associate 
with the rich and those of exalted position, even when the 
rich man is a scapegrace and the eminent individual a 
dunce. But the tendency that is developing in our estimates 
of our fellows should not be judged by such weaknesses as 
this, which everyone smiles at in others and fails to notice 
only when he himself is the guilty party. It should be 
gathered from our observation of the sort of actions that 
we all respect. Such actions show that the degree of a 
man's intellectual culture has become the test that decides 
his claim to stand on a basis of social equality with others. 
We find that while a man of learning might without mis- 
giving invite to his table a subordinate official or clerk, he 

224 The Individual Personality [617-8 

would hardly ask a day labourer or factory operative. 
Nowadays, however, the reason for this distinction would 
not be that the one kind of occupation is regarded as more 
valuable than the other, or even as intellectually superior to 
it, — as a matter of fact this would not be true in many 
instances, — but simply that the one occupation is ordinarily 
associated with a higher degree of intellectual cultivation 
than the other, so that in the former case there is a com- 
munity of intellectual interests that is lacking in the latter. 

There are certain projects for social reforms whose idea is 
to introduce social equality by reducing the labour necessary 
to support life to the level of a fixed amount of mechanical 
work required from each individual. Such schemes as these 
show that their projectors have not freed themselves from 
the tendency to estimate the worth of personality by 
property and occupation, a tendency which the develop- 
ment of social culture is gradually overcoming. The real 
goal of moral culture finds its best expression, not in these 
Utopian dreams, but in the longing felt by every clear- 
sighted and ambitious worker to increase the degree of his 
intellectual cultivation. 

The truth is that the only kind of human equality con- 
ceivably attainable is not complete equality of intellectual 
culture, which would be neither possible nor desirable, but 
equality in the chief intellectual interests of life. It is also 
that towards which, despite opposing principles, the forces 
of morality and culture are striving. 

6 1 8-9] 



IN the moral order of to-day the ethical value of family- 
life is confined to the family in its narrower sense of 
a single married couple with their children. We have before 
pointed out the increased depth of moral significance thus 
gained by family relationships. 1 By reason of the closer 
connection established between the members of a family, 
there has arisen an unanimity of purpose possible to no form 
of association outside of the family bond. Every outward 
function of personal life gives distinct evidence of this fact. 

In the first place, the family represents a common stock 
of property and of earnings. Husband and wife combine 
the property which they have inherited or independently 
acquired, in order to use it for common ends and transfer 
it to their children, either during their own lifetime or after 
their death. The custom which sometimes obtains under 
certain conditions, of having the wife keep her property 
separate or even carry on a business of her own, is contrary 
to the natural conditions of family life. It is the first step 
towards a division of interests, which cannot fail to extend 
to other departments of life, and hence must necessarily 
destroy the moral basis of the family by reducing it to 
its original level, that of a purely external sexual relation. 
1 Cf. Part I., chap, iii., pp. 236, 237. 
Q 225 

226 Society [619-20 

Where the money-getting is the function of the husband 
alone, as is the case in many kinds of occupation, and 
regularly in the higher forms, the wife has still an important 
field of activity in looking out for the preservation of the 
family property, and especially in applying it to meet the 
family needs. Upon her depends the prosperity of the 
common establishment and of everything the family is 
thereby enabled to do. 

As regards the second general condition of life, occupa- 
tion, it is only to a very limited extent that the members of 
a family can aim directly at like ends. Actual community 
of employment can exist only under relatively simple con- 
ditions, and in forms of occupation that make it possible for 
husband and wife to have equal or similar shares of the 
work involved. These conditions are approximately filled 
almost nowhere save in the life of the small farmer. And 
the moral advantage of such community of labour is very 
slight. It does away with a division of functions that is 
adapted to the physical differences between man and woman 
and in so doing imposes tasks on the woman that tend 
to produce corresponding alterations in her nature. It is 
when the labours of husband and wife are complementary, 
not identical, that we find the truly moral family relation- 
ship. The woman whose occupation has rendered her 
masculine has lost those qualities of disposition that render 
her valuable to the family. Her work is no longer prized 
as the qualitative complement to that of man : it is claimed 
as a quantitative assistance, like that of a labourer in his 

A complete antithesis to this state of affairs, where man 
and wife share equally in a common labour or business, is 
formed by the case where they follow wholly different occu- 
pations. In the lower forms of employment the pressure 
of hardship has long since made such a relation necessary. 

620] The Family 227 

We find it existing more especially in cases where the 
husband's occupation employs his own powers alone, but 
does not suffice, as well as might be desired, for the family 
maintenance. Under such conditions it must be granted 
that for the wife to co-operate in the support of the family 
by manual labour, or by the practice of some occupation 
suited to her powers and capacities, is, while not in itself 
desirable, an expedient grounded in the nature of her cir- 
cumstances and conducive, since it ensures the maintenance 
of outward existence, to the realisation of moral ends. Of 
late years, however, the effort of woman to secure greater 
independence has not infrequently led to the occurrence of 
this relation in the higher walks of life, where there is no 
financial necessity for it, and where only the desire to increase 
the pleasures of life by means of a double source of income, 
or, still oftener, the impulse of the more talented women 
to seek a life of greater outward activity and* more varied 
interests, furnishes the motive for its existence. Evidently, 
the result of this state of things is in many respects like 
that which usually follows from similarity between the 
occupations of husband and wife. Just as the wife must fail 
to give her husband the best kind of help where she is 
merely the companion of all his labours, so the family 
threatens to become a purely external business association 
when husband and wife follow separate occupations and 
independent interests. Only in the latter case they may 
even lose interest in each other's work, since their own 
employments furnish them with full occupation and satis- 
faction. These are disadvantages from which the most 
important family duties, those of education and of mutual 
moral help, cannot fail to suffer. All of which is not to deny 
that there are cases which do not come under the rule. 
In particular, where great artistic talent on the wife's part 
justifies her assumption of a more independent position, the 

228 Society [620-1 

life of the couple, devoted to different intellectual interests, 
yet united by mutual understanding, may produce a relation- 
ship morally far above the average. But the rules of the 
moral life cannot be shaped in accordance with rare ex- 

There is one case, of course, where woman must be allowed 
the opportunity of getting her living by an occupation suited 
to her powers, and of making herself useful to human society. 
The unmarried woman, denied the functions of wife and 
mother, must not be prevented from competing with men 
in the field of labour, wherever the kind of activity does 
not forbid. The prejudice that the intellectual capacity of 
woman disqualifies her for certain higher kinds of employ- 
ment is a particularly ill-founded argument. While the 
exceptions to it as a rule are isolated instances, their 
occurrence is sufficient to leave the decision of the question 
to the existing state of competition. It would, however, 
be unjust to apply a rule which may suit the majority to 
those whom it would forbid the exercise of a profession 
suited to their powers and useful to themselves and others. 

Two conditions only may be posited as absolute, since 
the cases which they do not affect are so contrary to 
feminine nature that they can claim no privilege. Woman 
should undertake no employment that exceeds her physical 
force, and should avoid occupations to which her character 
is opposed. Kinds of work that require great muscular 
strength, extraordinary perseverance, suppression of the 
feelings, and great energy of will are not made for woman, 
whose physical organisation renders weakness and changes 
of mood an unavoidable part of her nature, if she is to 
remain woman. The existing social institutions ought not 
to deny to those whose gifts are above the average the 
right to pursue exceptional careers ; but they cannot assume 
the task of making laws for exceptional natures. The 

621 - 2 ] The Family 229 

occurrence of uncommon degrees of cowardice does not 
excuse man from military service, and 'the reason is that 
such cowardice cannot be presupposed to exist. In like 
manner, the possession of uncommon courage on the part 
of some women cannot be made a ground for allowing them 
to take part in military service, for it is not a characteristic 
that can be counted upon. The inspired Maid, fighting for 
her country in the moment of its greatest need, is a noble 
figure, though she transgresses the limitations of her sex : but 
a regiment of female soldiers would be a repulsive sight. For 
similar reasons politics will never be a profession suited to 
women. It requires a force of character which is not too 
frequent among men, and which in women would indicate a 
masculinity foreign to their true nature. 

This brings us to the third aspect of personal activity, 
that of the citizen. The effort to secure for woman an 
independent position as a citizen is not the least important 
of the ways in which the so-called movement for female 
emancipation usually finds expression. And of all the 
attempts at abolishing differences in the conduct of personal 
life, none bears so clearly the stamp of falsity to nature 
as this. For a woman to take an active part in the political 
conflicts that agitate the State and society is as contradictory 
to her character and disposition as bearing arms and doing 
military service is to her physical nature. Even the highly 
cultivated woman, who is intellectually far superior to the 
average man, must always, where questions relating to 
matters of public utility and function are concerned, depend 
on the stronger masculine character. She must take her 
guidance from man, and, under favourable circumstances, 
may support him in undertaking and carrying out his duties 
by following him in the thoughts and sentiments which he 
seeks to act out in his life, so lightening by her sympathy 
the burden of his duty and increasing the pleasure and 

230 Society [622-3 

the productiveness of his work. Thus, while woman should 
not keep wholly aloof from political life, her attitude to it 
should be marked by that reserve which is imposed upon her 
by the avoidance of any personal share in public contests, 
and by the requirement that she shall preserve an har- 
monious moderation in her emotions. 

At no time and under no circumstances, least of all here, 
where the sphere of the individual's function has been 
indicated by Nature herself, can it be a postulate of freedom 
that all persons shall be permitted to do all things. Every- 
one should be what Nature has made him. If she has 
excluded women from many departments of life, she has 
opened to them others where they have a better right 
than men. One of the noblest of these is the profession 
of educating the coming generation into capable human 
beings. Few people have the opportunity to influence public 
life directly. And among the many forms of indirect 
influence, which are all that the civic position of most 
men allows, there is none greater than that influence on the 
living representatives of the future which it is the function 
of the family, and pre-eminently of the wife, to exert. 

While civic duties are a department of life in which woman 
has only an indirect share, the realm of intellectual culture, 
on the other hand, is as fully open to her, on the whole, 
as to man, though with a certain difference, it is true. This 
is especially the case in the simplest conditions of human 
life, where the struggle for existence absorbs nearly all 
the husband's efforts, and where religious motives are almost 
the only influences that tend to unite the individual with 
the intellectual life of society. Here, where the circum- 
stances are favourable, it is especially the wife who cultivates 
the intellectual side of life and transmits it in education 
to the coming generation as their most precious heritage. 
Moreover, the sentiments of filial piety felt towards a mother, 

623-4] The Family 231 

sentiments that have something of religious reverence about 
them, are often the surest safeguard of morality in such 
stations of life, which poverty renders most dangerous to 

Other intellectual interests come into play at the higher 
stages of culture ; and such interests now become an object 
of pursuit to the husband as well as the wife, whether in 
the leisure intervals of his proper occupation, or as an aid 
to it, or even as his own profession. This gives greater 
opportunity for a division of interests, corresponding to 
differences of disposition ; and thus both husband and wife 
get a stimulus that they might otherwise lack. Scientific 
study is more in accord with the active character and the 
wider range of practical interests that belong to man ; or if 
he applies himself to art, either receptively or creatively, he 
uses scientific methods in its pursuit. For the wife, on the 
other hand, art is usually the prevailing intellectual interest, 
because in art her attitude may be wholly receptive, and she 
may gain the most varied stimulus for her more fully 
developed emotional life. Hence women, even when they 
are intellectually creative, for the most part pursue art and 
not science. And in the pursuit of art they cultivate forms 
and kinds of creation which are the direct outflow of feeling, 
or which depict reality without the aid of a mode of repre- 
sentation requiring study. Thus, to confine ourselves to the 
realm of poetry, women have excelled in lyrical verse and 
kindred forms of emotional expression, and in the psycho- 
logical novel ; but they have never gone beyond mediocrity 
in the epic, the drama and the historical novel. As for 
science, centuries of experience compel us to maintain that 
it is not the true province of the feminine mind. The 
tendency of woman in scientific study is towards matters 
that appeal to her artistic sense in some way, like the ob- 
servation of nature or history ; and towards an individual 

232 Society [ fi2 4 

and biographical, rather than an universal treatment of 
the latter. The sciences with which she has least affinity 
are the pure sciences of the understanding, such as logic, 
mathematics and jurisprudence. As yet there have been 
no great mathematicians or jurists among women. Even 
Shakespeare's Portia arouses our admiration less by the 
juristic acumen of her judgment than by her splendid 
speech on mercy, which is conceived in a truly feminine 

Property, occupation, civic position and common in- 
tellectual interests form a bond which joins the members 
of a single family into a solid unity. They are the basis 
of an unique social organisation, which is, moreover, the 
most effective school of unselfishness and sacrifice. This 
latter aspect of the family bond is especially prominent in 
the relation of parents to children. The element of 
reciprocal service, otherwise so valuable, interferes with 
the development of perfectly unselfish impulses between 
husband and wife. But the child is at first entirely helpless, 
and for a long time afterwards is dependent on its parents 
at least for the chief necessities of life and for its intellectual 
training. The only return it can make for all it receives is 
the pleasure of witnessing its progress. Hence childhood 
has probably done more to combat barbarism and self- 
seeking than all the influences of outward culture. Even 
the mother who is morally a savage is at times stirred to 
impulses of pure self-sacrifice by her child. And here is 
where the wife has an infinite advantage over the husband. 
For all these motives operate more strongly upon her, and 
hence the pleasures that grow out of such feelings are 
stronger and more permanent in her case. But no darker 
shadow can fall upon the moral condition of any class than 
the reversal of this relation of pure giving and receiving 
between parent and child, the misuse of children from their 

625] The Family 233 

earliest years as sources of income, or the planting by 
parental example of the germ of crass selfishness in the 
child's disposition. The instances not infrequently met 
with of hardened and habitual criminals, who conceal their 
unhallowed trade from their children in the hope of shielding 
them, at least, from crime are far more praiseworthy than 
such wretches as these, who are often clever enough to 
avoid actual conflict with the law. 

No government, within any conceivable period of time, 
will reach the point where individuals will cease to be led 
astray by want of occupation, poverty and the spirit of 
pleasure-seeking, thus necessarily involving their families 
in physical and moral ruin. It is one of the gravest aspects l 
of crime that it is not limited to the criminal himself, but 
disturbs the moral life for generations through the progres- 
sive influence of example and defective moral education. 
Such evils, of course, cannot be wholly obviated while the 
individual causes that produce them are in operation. How- 
ever, we do not consider that society has fulfilled its whole 
moral duty by punishing the criminal, but regard it as still 
under obligation to furnish everyone who desires to earn his 
own living by honest labour with the opportunity to do so. 
And in like manner the endeavour to destroy, by providing 
a helpful system of public education, this silently maturing 
germ of immorality ought to be regarded, far more than is 
at present the case in our customary modes of remedying 
public evils, as a duty that society owes to itself and to the 

234 Society \_62i-6 


We have already discussed, in considering the civic position 
of the individual, the way in which social divisions take their 
rise in the diversity of property relations, and the gradual 
change from the predominance of this factor to that of 
occupation. 1 Along with distinctions of property and occu- 
pation there go differences in intellectual interests, and from 
the totality of these conditions there finally arise those 
divisions of society which we call social classes. 

The simultaneous and to a certain extent independent 
working of all three of these factors is a peculiar feature of 
modern society. And their co-operation is the chief reason 
why social problems have become so much more serious and 
urgent, morally as well as in other respects. Property rela- 
tions, which originally determined the social order in the 
simplest manner, by the use of an external standard easily 
applied under any circumstances, are now complicated in all 
kinds of ways by the other two factors. The more influential 
occupations have long since ceased to involve more extended 
material possessions ; and, moreover, the tendency of intel- 
lectual culture, one of the most powerful instruments even 
of external influence, is always to elevate its possessors above 
the level of their fellows, and thus to render class distinctions 

For a long time these equalising forces were hindered by 
the social ordinance, deep-rooted in the moral and legal 
order, which made a man's birth the test of his rank as a 
citizen. The division of society into the nobility and the 
bourgeois, and of the nobility into higher and lower orders, 
was itself originally a distinction involving differences of 
property and occupation. But when the bourgeois and the 
noble came into competition as landed proprietors, and 
1 See above, chap, i., pp. 206 ff. 

626-7] Social Classes 235 

existing property distinctions were done away with, usually 
to the disadvantage of the former owners ; when the law 
abolished the most essential legal privileges of the aristoc- 
racy of birth; and when, finally, the levelling influence 
exerted by the increased esteem in which natural endow- 
ments and intellectual culture were held, had destroyed 
almost completely that last stronghold of inherited privilege, 
the exclusive right to certain occupations, — then the effect of 
birth was more and more restricted to those influences which 
must always be exercised on a man by the position of his 
parents and the nature of his education. From these facts 
it follows that the criteria which used to divide society into 
rigidly distinguished classes have now fallen into disuse. 
Almost the only question as regards property now is whether 
a man has or has not enough to ensure him a competence; 
this assured, an official or a merchant has the same social 
position, whether he is rich or very moderately well off. 
Even distinctions of occupation are becoming less sharply 
drawn. A man's occupation is almost what he makes it : 
the commonest manual labour may be ennobled by an 
intelligent and lofty mode of performing it, and the worker 
with his hands may win for himself by culture and ability 
an honourable position as a citizen. Thus the balance of 
influence gradually shifts in the direction of the factor of 
intellectual culture, though the other factors, especially in 
so far as they determine intellectual culture, preserve a 
certain weight. 

And so the only universally valid division of society turns 
out to be the distinction of an upper and a lower class, 
between which it is useful for many purposes to introduce 
a middle class, obtained, however, merely by subdividing 
the higher class. This division is sufficiently vague to allow 
for the great variableness of the standards according to 
which such distinctions are nowadays drawn, and also for 

236 Society [627-8 

the fluctuations which make it always possible for the indi- 
vidual either to rise above or to fall below the limits of the 
social class to which he belongs. If we distinguish two 
classes only, the upper class will include those property- 
holders, persons engaged in the better forms of occupation 
and persons of influence as citizens, who pursue intellectual 
interests. The lower class will comprise those who are 
nearly or wholly destitute of property, who follow lower 
forms of occupation, and with whom intellectual interests 
are of less moment. If we divide the upper class, again, 
into a highest and a middle class, the test for the former is 
partly direct participation in the government and partly 
certain external circumstances, which, although connected 
with the historical tradition of an hereditary nobility, other- 
wise falling into abeyance, still preserve a certain influence. 
Thus the highest social grade will consist of the governing 
class, and of those with whom it has, or may have, social 

It is probable that the fluctuations which are already 
obliterating the boundaries between social classes, and which 
are in particular cases continually bringing about the rise 
and fall of individuals in the competition for position and 
culture, will increase. The individual will soon owe his rank, 
far more than is at present the case, to what he is in himself 
rather than to the station in which he was born. But social 
classes will not cease to exist. For differences of occupation 
and intellectual culture must always exist, and differences of 
external position must result from them. If they were to be 
forcibly abolished, they would tend to re-establish themselves 
through the occurrence of variations in natural talents and 
moral endowment, — above all, through the moral needs of 
society. Universal equality is desirable only from the 
point of view of that extreme individualism which regards 
society as merely a sum of individuals, and hence sees in its 

628-9] Social Classes 


complete dissolution the ideal of a so-called social order. 
As a matter of fact, if the individual were really the sole 
end of all moral effort, little objection could be urged against 
an ideal of this sort. But the nature of man distinctly 
vetoes any such proposal to do away with the social order, 
and thus indicates plainly that society, like the family, has 
independent moral ends, which it can attain only through 
its division into different orders of occupation and culture. 
While these orders originated in part from other considera- 
tions, they are emphasised and protected by the moral 
ends which they serve. Since we have already discussed 
(pp. 207 ff.) the moral influence that membership in a definite 
social class exerts on the individual, we need merely glance 
at the moral effects of the social order on society itself. 

Division of labour is the vital condition of all the more 
comprehensive forms of intellectual effort. The family 
pursues moral ends which the individual cannot pursue, and 
which the family could not attain unless every one of its 
members had his own indicated and peculiar tasks, based on 
his natural endowment and intellectual development. Just 
so in the case of society, a division into definite classes is an 
arrangement essential to the ends of the whole and hence 
to the morality of the individual as well. We have found 
the fundamental assumption in all intellectual life to be that 
while the individual is on the one hand borne along on the 
current of the ideas and endeavours of the society to which 
he belongs, on the other hand he reacts upon society 
through his own ideas and tendencies of will. In this 
ceaseless process of action and reaction the creative function 
belongs wholly to the individual consciousness : society 
merely conserves what individuals have won. But the only 
way in which it can make its intellectual treasures available 
for future development, and thus bring about that continuity 
of the intellectual life which is essential to all progress, is 

238 Society [629 

by entrusting them to a representative that will outlast the 
individual. 1 

Now, in order that society may execute this important 
task, it must divide itself into an active element, whose 
immediate function is to increase the stock of intellectual 
wealth, and a passive element that absorbs and preserves 
the new thoughts and germs of will. But all intellectual 
states are absolutely continuous in their development; and, 
moreover, these new intellectual acquisitions are made up of 
an enormous number of individual products, many of which 
lie hidden in a heterogeneous mass of phenomena, and 
fail to show themselves in their true nature as co-opera- 
tive factors and conditions. Hence the individuals upon 
whom the active r61e devolves do not always stand out 
distinctly from their environment, and the process of re- 
ciprocal influence must be arranged for in the divisions of 
society itself. This is increasingly the case, the more com- 
plex the society is and the more widely disseminated the 
capacity to do active service for the moral life. In primitive 
societies it may well be that divisions are unnecessary, a few 
leading spirits ranking far above the rest. But with the 
intensive and extensive growth of moral culture, such a state 
of things becomes less and less possible. It now devolves 
upon a greater sum of individual forces to do what was 
formerly done by a few. Along with increasing complexity 
of function there is increased necessity for a division of labour. 
The weaker minds must labour in the service of the moral 
ideas ; the stronger ones, while they may indicate the path 
of moral development, cannot determine it in detail. There 
is no realm of intellectual creation where this rule does not 
hold, from the province of the statesman, the man of science 
and the artist, down to the affairs of practical life, serving 
as they do ends that are merely transitory. All these in- 
1 Cf. above, Part iii. , chap. i. , pp. 34 ff. 

629-30] Social Classes 239 

tellectual realms are, however, directly or indirectly, aids to 
moral culture or elements in it. 

Thus we see that the process of social development does 
not consist in a reduction of society to homogeneous 
elements. Rather, the progress of the moral life and the 
demands of the growing multiplicity of moral problems and 
efforts, lead in the direction of a completer and complexer 
division of society into classes. As the development of the 
living organism does not do away with the differentiation of 
organs, but increases, while at the same time refining it, so 
the process of perfecting the social organisation proceeds 
from the simpler to the more complex, and not in the 
reverse direction. What sometimes gives rise to the 
opposite illusion is simply the fact, itself quite independent 
of this process, that the influence of inherited qualities 
other than personal merits on the individual's social position 
is decreasing, while that of acquired qualities, especially of 
intellectual culture and the development of character, is 

To the constitution of society out of active and passive 
elements there corresponds a division of its members into 
two classes. First, there is the higher class, which furnishes 
conditions for the production of active intellectual leaders 
of social life. Secondly, there is the lower class, which serves 
as the receptive social consciousness and allows the creations 
of the active element to gain the necessary fixity and security 
by their effect on the social will. Clearly, such a relation 
between the classes will be successful in proportion as social 
position is decided by intellectual culture and moral energy 
of will ; that is, in proportion to the ease with which the 
individual can raise himself from a lower to a higher social 
class, or obtain a more influential position in the latter, by 
his own merits. 

These considerations offer a basis for the division of 

240 Society [630-1 

society into two classes only. The distinction of a third and 
supreme social order is based on other conditions, which, 
if they are not its originating causes, at least constitute the 
grounds for its preservation. As the limits that formerly 
marked off social classes from each other are gradually 
effaced in the free competition for social rank, it becomes 
desirable to offset this continual movement and flux of 
society by creating a more permanent and stable class, which 
shall include the representatives of the supreme power in 
the State. The leading motive here is identical with that 
which impels us to preserve the State from the disturbances 
attendant on competition for the highest places, by limiting 
royal authority to a single family; and to regard the 
permanence of such authority as an outward sign of the 
permanence of the political order. Naturally, this motive 
will govern the social order as long as any importance is 
attached to the corresponding political theory. Hence the 
highest social class tends to disappear with the introduction 
of republican forms of government. 

While, as all this shows, the social order is not a creation 
existing merely for the sake of the individual; while it 
need not seek its justification in the services it does to 
individuals, yet we must not neglect the fact that here, too, 
social ends react to the advantage of individual ends, and 
that the individual gains more from the division of society 
into classes than he could gain from a dissolution of the 
social order and a levelling of all distinctions. Aside from 
those features of the moral life already mentioned in our 
discussion of the individual's position as a citizen, which 
are peculiar to different stations in life, and which would, of 
course, vanish if social differences were abolished, the in- 
dividual's effort to advance his station has introduced into 
the civilisation of to-day a certain factor that, while it 
involves its own dangers, like every new aid to morality, 

631-2] Social Classes 241 

must yet be regarded as one of the most effective and indis- 
pensable forces of intellectual and moral development. 

The chief reason why the social problem is at the same 
time a moral problem is because in the strife of individuals 
to secure social position, besides much that is objectionable 
and directed toward transitory ends, there co-operates a 
moral factor whose right cannot be gainsaid. It is this : 
the equality of social rights for which the masses deprived 
of such equality strive is a prerequisite to moral equality. 
For not only does the social regard enjoyed by the individual 
react upon his self-respect. Without it he is incapable of 
sharing in those common intellectual purposes whose pursuit 
unites the members of a moral community. 

The great ethical superiority of Christianity over ancient 
civilisation consists in its thorough application of the principle 
of moral equality. At first it sought this equality only in that 
intellectual realm where its application to the moral life is still 
most fruitful : it believed that all individuals bear the same 
relation to the ultimate grounds and end of human exist- 
ence. As the power of Christianity grew, however, the 
influence of this doctrine of equality, at first conceived with 
reference only to the future life, necessarily extended into 
the sphere of the present, and finally resulted in the demand 
for a common possession of the most important intellectual 
goods. If we may deduce from the past and the present 
the direction of future development, the law seems to hold 
good that the sphere of those who share by their own efforts 
and with a clear consciousness of the ends they seek in the 
advancement of social culture will become wider and wider, 
and that its extension will become essential to the further- 
ance of- moral ends. 

While the sphere of intellectual culture is thus the only 
one where relative equality of individuals is at once attain- 
able and necessary to ensure the moral worth of personality, 

242 Society [632-3 

intellectual equality cannot fail to react upon the other 
conditions that determine a man's social status. Personal 
property, as an aid to free personal activity, will probably 
always be indispensable on moral grounds. In order, how- 
ever, that its influence may be restricted to the limits thus 
established, the extremes of wealth and poverty, which 
involve so many disadvantages to morals, must be gradually 
done away with. The society of to-day tends in many ways 
to regulate itself in this regard. For instance, there is the 
increased estimate, moral as well as material, put upon all 
kinds of useful work, and the diminished toleration of wealth 
acquired without labour, together with the tendency to depre- 
ciate the moral status of such wealth. The influence of the 
State is even stronger than that of these regulative influences 
which operate within the sphere of personal activity. As 
the State itself, local or district governments, and those 
associations which are under State supervision enter into 
competition with individuals in the production of material 
goods, there grows up an economic order where public pro- 
perty has increasing importance and private property 
gradually tends to be restricted within the limits indicated 
by the moral ends that it should serve. When the equalis- 
ing of property relations has made the phenomenon of 
prosperous idleness an exception, it will no longer escape 
the contempt it deserves, though it will probably never 
disappear, any more than that of crime and dishonour. 
Again, on the other hand, the more uniform distribution 
of goods that will be effected by individual and collective 
regulations will result in a tendency to estimate the social 
worth of personality chiefly by humane and intellectual 
interests and by the moral energy with which these are 

The two extremes within which the material postulates 
of a satisfactory social condition vary have been designated 

633-4] Social Classes 243 

as " the right to a full equivalent of labour " and " the right 
to existence." * These formulae suit the social movements of 
the time, which are still almost wholly directed towards 
the securing of material goods. They are also significant 
of the way in which egoistic and altruistic motives are 
intermingled, and of the insufficiency of all such efforts 
to reform society without referring to the ethical principles 
of the social order. True, the fundamental law that labour 
should be rewarded according to its value has a moral basis. 
Hence even in the most ideally moral society there will be 
differences of property and position corresponding to in- 
dividual differences in capacity. Communistic society is 
as far removed as possible from the social ideal, precisely 
because it does away with such differences. But the demand 
that every man shall receive a full equivalent for his labour 
pushes this principle, in itself right and just, to the extreme 
of reckless egoism, where the individual does everything 
for himself and nothing for others, and a moral order of 
society becomes impossible. While the first of these prin- 
ciples thus demands more for the individual than the moral 
community, upon which the very existence of individuals 
depends, can ever ensure to him, the second, which claims 
for him the right to exist, demands too little. The task of 
a truly moral order of society will always be not merely 
to render the individual's external existence possible, but 
to make it possible in such a form that, whatever station 
in life he occupies, he can share the intellectual interests of 
the community and thus attain that social equality which 
is the first condition of complete moral equality. Yet the 
demand for the possibility of mere existence may serve 
as an ethical minimum. However meagre its content, it is 
not wholly superfluous in a state of society where even 

1 A. Mengbr, The Right to the Whole Produce of Labour. Trans, by M. E. 
Tanner. London, 1899. 

244 Society [634 

undeserved poverty is sometimes abandoned to hopeless 

But, aside from the fact that they are partly one-sided 
and partly inadequate, all these maxims are defective, be- 
cause they take account only of the material side of existence, 
which, ethically regarded, must be merely a means, not an 
end in itself. The same error reversed affects all Utopian 
ideals of society, from Thomas More to Bellamy and others. 
They depict ideal relationships of property and economics 
which are wholly lacking in historical continuity with the 
civilisation of to-day. The fact that in order to bring about 
such prodigious changes men themselves must become other 
than they are is entirely ignored. This is an inversion of the 
only true causal relation. Men are not supposed to create 
institutions, but institutions are supposed to create men. Of 
course, the social order may produce good as well as evil. 
But to develop an order that will produce good, the forces 
in operation must ultimately proceed from individuals. The 
Utopian ideals, however, conflict with personal freedom, which 
is the very life-atmosphere of moral development ; for they 
are conceivable only on the basis of a forcible reconstruction ' 
of things, and hence either frankly or tacitly introduce the 
element of constraint into the description of their ideal. 
Thus the ideal, applied to men as they are, is no ideal at 
all, but an institution for suppressing all independent moral 
impulses. And it is the very opposite of an ideal for the 
ideal man it presupposes, since the reign of force is the most 
unpropitious and inadequate form of life that a society of 
moral beings can choose for itself. Thus if the Island of 
Utopia should be actually discovered, everyone would wish 
to get away from it ; the good because they would have no 
opportunity to do right on their own motion, and the bad 
because even in the future they will prefer liberty to the 
house of correction. 

6 34-5] Social Classes 245 

All reform schemes of this sort, which hold that the cure 
for moral ills is to be found in distributing the good things 
of life equally, or on the basis of a calculation of desert, 
overlook the fact that man's happiness, like his moral worth, 
does not depend on such an equality of so-called goods, — an 
equality that is essentially incompatible with the inner as 
well as the outer conditions of life. If the means to happi- 
ness could in the long run be distributed with approximate 
equality, unhappiness would not cease to exist, nor would 
crime, though certain occasions for it might be removed. 
To bring about a progressive diminution of external occasions 
for unhappiness and crime, the first requisite is a social order 
that undertakes to prevent the occurrence of morally bad 
property conditions, and to produce that kind of social 
equality which arises out of the common pursuit of the 
highest intellectual interests. At the same time, it must not 
ignore the fact that the interests of life and occupation are 
manifold, and that the happiness of the individual, no less 
than the welfare of the community, depends upon this 
variety of interests; for the individual's happiness is not 
external, but internal. It springs from that consciousness 
of moral capacity, the possession of which makes a man 
who is true to his own nature unwilling to change his 
personality for that of another. 


An important supplement to the division of society into 
classes, which is based on the property, occupation, intellectual 
interests and general position of the various members of 
society, and which rests in part on obsolete historical con- 
ditions, is formed by the innumerable associations that 
originate from the free will of individuals. In such asso- 
ciations we have a combination of forces to bring about 

246 Society [635-6 

ends that the isolated individual would find it difficult or 
impossible to accomplish. While a man's own will is not 
wholly without influence in determining the social class to 
which he belongs, yet a long time must elapse before it can 
effect a change in his position, which is dependent on external 
causes. But the association is wholly a product of the free 
choice of its members. Hence the life of an association 
brings into the historic fixity of the social order, which that 
order will never, perhaps, wholly lose, a freer play of social 
forces, and allows a wider scope to individual activity. Corre- 
sponding to this we have the fact that social classes, though 
individuals may sometimes pass from one to another, are 
mutually exclusive ; while the various kinds of associations 
and societies blend in a great variety of ways. A man may 
belong to many associations, but not to more than one social 

Associations are always the product of a community of 
interests. While the word association or union ( Verein) in- 
dicates that individuals are brought together into a unity, the 
bond that unites them may be closer or laxer according to 
the importance of the ends for which they strive in common, 
and the greater or less similarity of their positions in life. 
The general term association is usually employed to indicate 
the loosest form of union. Associations, in this narrower 
sense, may include among their members men of the most 
widely different social classes, occupations and positions. 
There is a closer bond of union in societies that are formed 
for the pursuit of a single definite end, which presupposes 
a more permanent interest on the part of the members of the 
society. Business or trades unions come next, membership 
in which usually implies a unity of endeavour that extends to 
other departments of life. Last of all comes the corporation, 
the union of whose members is outwardly manifested by its 
claim to be regarded as a legal unit, to have external repre- 

636-7] Associations 247 

sentation, and the like. A society presupposes that its 
members belong to the same social class, and have common 
material or intellectual interests ; a guild or union is based 
on similarity of employment, while a corporation determines 
the civic position of its members, and often their occupation 
as well. 

This external classification, between whose divisions many 
intermediate forms occur, is less important morally than the 
classification of associations according to the ends for which 
they exist. Broadly speaking, such ends may be humani- 
tarian, social or individual ; or they may be complex, com- 
bining different orders of ends. Especially do we find such 
combinations of social and individual, or of social and 
humanitarian objects. A trades union, for example, affects the 
individual's interests in the first instance, but its endeavour 
is to reach certain social ends as well by bringing together 
those engaged in the same occupation. The object of a 
benevolent association is humanitarian; but in so far as it 
is restricted to definite spatial limits and local needs, its ends 
are social. 

This broadly ethical principle of division is crossed by 
another principle, of preponderant importance for the 
immediate moral result of associational activity. It divides 
associations according to the sphere of personal life towards 
which their efforts are directed in the support and furtherance 
of certain ends. Following the classification of the various 
directions of personal activity which we made above, we 
may distinguish property associations, associations based 
on community of occupation, citizens' unions and associations 
for the promotion of intellectual culture. All the division's 
of the previous classification may be included under the 
present one ; indeed, the two sets of categories almost 
coincide. Property associations are exclusively concerned 
with individual interests ; the interests of professional or 

248 Society [637-8 

trades unions are partly individual and partly social, while 
citizens' unions for the most part address themselves to 
social problems, though they may aim at humanitarian ends 
as well. For instance, benevolent associations are, as a rule, 
bodies of citizens brought together by certain local and 
political relationships. Even here, however, individual ends 
have a certain amount of influence. Most associations of a 
beneficent or political character would soon die of inanition 
if their members, and especially their leaders, were deprived 
of the hope of getting influence and position. So long as the 
general object remains in the ascendency, such a co-operation 
of egoistic motives is not necessarily objectionable ; but, of 
course, it involves a danger that should not be underestimated, 
and that must be counteracted, in himself and in others, by 
every member of such an association. Finally, all spheres 
of human interest are comprehended within the scope of 
societies for the promotion of culture. Such societies, if we 
understand the word culture in its broadest sense, may 
take for their objects all kinds of intellectual interests, those 
of religion, art and science ; and their activity is usually 
directed towards the realisation at once of individual, social 
and humanitarian ends. 

Property associations form the lowest grade in the series. 
Their immediate aim is always egoistic. The individual 
hopes to find a more effective way of getting rich by 
associating himself with others and applying the common 
capital to some profitable enterprise. Social advantages 
may be indirectly gained under some circumstances, for 
such collective undertakings are not infrequently directed 
towards matters affecting the public welfare. In particular, 
they sometimes aid and sometimes prepare the way for the 
public activities of the State. But it is evident that the 
natural condition of affairs where such enterprises are started 
is for the persons who are associated in the scheme to be 

638-9] Associations 249 

themselves its projectors, and to aim at increasing their 
property by working together. In such a case the property 
association becomes a society based on community of 
occupation, and should be treated as such. On the other 
hand, there are grave moral objections to be urged against 
the formation of purely financial associations, whose members 
have no common interest outside of the effort to get more 
wealth, and may pursue the most diverse occupations and 
even belong to wholly different social classes, as is actually 
the case in our joint-stock companies. The only thing 
that gives any moral worth to an association, aside from 
the special ends at which it aims, is lacking here : namely, 
co-operation for a common object, and the resulting 
education in activity for the common good. In a society 
of this sort every man's sole object is his own profit. Often 
he does not even know his associates, and in extreme cases 
his activity is reduced to participating in a general meeting, 
where nothing interests him but the question of dividends. 
Hence such associations are associations only in appearance. 
They are the undertaking of a few speculators, who seek 
to make the property of others serve their own ends. 
Loss and gain in such enterprises are quite outside the 
sphere of moral industry. The man who tries to get rich 
without expenditure of labour ought not to complain if he 
becomes a victim to chance or fraud. Since the individual 
does not always have sufficient insight to see the social 
and moral objections to this misuse of associational activity, 
the watchful guardianship of the State is essential here. 

Of course, those associations whose prime object is merely 
the protection of property, especially of small properties, 
rather than the aggrandizement of large properties, are 
quite a different affair. Savings banks, subscription societies, 
and building and loan associations, while they exist simply 
for the interest of individual property owners, are useful 

250 Society [639 

and even beneficent aids to the security of existence ; hence 
they have a value which, though subordinate, is not to be 
underestimated in its influence on the conduct of life. It 
is therefore entirely proper that such associations for the 
disposition of small capital should not be dependent on 
the chance honesty of individuals. They should be placed 
under the public supervision of the community or the 

Associations based on community of occupation are of 
higher grade than property associations. It is usual to apply 
the term brotherhoods or guilds to them. For here, more 
than in other associations, the members are comrades, 
occupying the same status in life, having the main objects 
of their existence in common, and associating themselves 
either in the pursuit of some special interest of their 
calling or for the benefit of the profession as a whole. 
Such associations may accordingly be divided into various 
classes, which in their relation to each other reproduce to 
a certain extent the divisions of society at large. In the 
first place, a few persons pursuing a common occupation 
may associate themselves, either for the general purpose 
of doing their work with united means and forces, or in 
order to enjoy in addition the benefits of divided labour. 
Next, those persons living in the same place, whose occupa- 
tions are similar or kindred, may unite and undertake to 
further either special ends, in the way of business, law or 
culture, or the interests of their profession as a whole. 
Finally, the most comprehensive form of such organisations 
is where all the members of a given trade or profession in 
the State are associated. 

Since, generally speaking, the moral value of associa- 
tions increases with the degree to which its members are 
united in their moral endeavours, associations based on 
community of occupation are distinctly pre-eminent among 

639-40] Associations 251 

those forms of union whose object is to serve the material 
needs of life. They become harmful elements in society 
only where egoistic interests get the upper hand in them, 
so that the association aims to secure the advantage of its 
members merely by injuring other kinds of occupation or 
classes of society ; or where different associations or in- 
dividuals among those engaged in the same business, as, 
for instance, masters and journeymen, manufacturers and 
workmen, come into conflict. Cases of this latter sort are, 
of course, usually symptoms of deeper moral evils. They 
indicate, especially, that the bond of a common occupation 
which should unite the warring elements is lacking, or only 
apparent ; that e.g. the manufacturer, or the workman 
even, has been transformed either wholly or in part into 
a scheming capitalist who is trying to use the labour of 
others merely as a means of increasing his own capital. 
Immoral conditions of this sort necessarily influence the 
various professional and trades associations, which may be 
divided by a conflict of interests just as they are drawn 
together by community of interests. 

Apart from such cases as these, unfortunately not ex- 
ceptional in our day, professional associations are among 
the most important agencies of social morality. They 
strengthen the feeling of professional honour, and educate 
the individual to take his part in activity for the public 
good and to subordinate his own interest to that of the 
whole. There is no doubt that their importance for the 
social organisation is greater than that ascribed to them 
at present, measured by the amount of political influence 
they enjoy. But in this age, of course, when the will of 
the State has reached so great a degree of power, there 
can be no question of allowing them the autonomy they 
formerly had, as represented in the constitutions of the guilds 
and the legal privileges accorded to other corporations. Yet 

252 Society [640-1 

it may be doubted whether such associations have not a far 
better claim to consideration in State or district assemblies 
than that of wealth or local interest, which last shows its 
influence in the practice of forming electoral districts. 

While associations based on similarity of occupation are 
thus in some measure an educative influence, teaching men 
how to act in common and arousing them to efforts for 
the public good, this character is still more marked in the 
case of civic associations. Such unions have one great 
advantage : their broader purpose subordinates at the very 
outset that egoistic aspect which is never absent in pro- 
fessional or trades unions, and which is often frankly recognised 
as their basis. Political societies and associations for the 
public benefit may be of the greatest support and assistance 
to the community and the State by suggesting useful 
regulations and by preparing public opinion for necessary 
steps in the way of progress. Of course, it is best for such 
societies to co-operate with public institutions. We should 
certainly regard a state of affairs where all the political 
societies were working for the opposition as neither normal 
nor desirable. Yet here as elsewhere unusual conditions 
justify unusual procedure. Where the only way to in- 
troduce a necessary progressive measure is by an important 
transformation of the existing legal order, the life of such 
societies may so prepare the way for change that violent 
political agitations may be avoided, or their effects moderated. 

Finally, the most comprehensive, and in many ways the 
most important class of associations based on interest em- 
braces those whose object is culture. All societies aiming 
at the cultivation of any kind of intellectual interest come 
under this head. Here the end pursued rules out egoism 
altogether ; or when there is egoism, individual interest is 
involved in its noblest form, where it serves the ends of 
universal culture, — the form, namely, of an effort to promote 

641-2]. Associations 253 

one's own intellectual development. Hence societies for the 
advancement of culture, if they do not wander into wrong 
courses and become subservient to political or egoistic 
motives foreign to the ends of culture itself, are the most 
effective aid to the morals of society and humanity. 

One distinction naturally assumes greater importance in 
this class of associations than in the others : the distinction, 
namely, between societies established to further the personal 
ends of their members, or ends in which the members can 
have a direct share ; and those where individuals unite in the 
pursuit of objects that do not affect them personally. Other 
kinds of associations, especially those based on property 
relations or on occupation, belong, as a rule, to the former 
class. For such societies to assume the second form would 
involve them in the exercise of a kind of protective benevo- 
lence that would not exactly conduce to the interests for 
which they exist. The case is otherwise with societies for the 
promotion of culture. While associations for the advance- 
ment of religion, art and science may exist to serve the 
personal ends of their members, they usually involve a 
broader purpose as well. And in many cases the members 
have no direct share at all in the object to be realised. The 
association simply tries to further general culture, either in 
a given population or a given professional class ; or, it may 
be, to promulgate religious doctrine. In such cases it is 
almost the rule that the members co-operate to bring about 
results which affect them either indirectly or not at all. 

By reason of this peculiarity two important ethical corol- 
laries follow from the existence of such societies. First, they 
involve, more than any other kind of associations, motives 
to altruistic action which indicate clearly the general social 
and humanitarian goals of moral culture. Secondly, their 
altruistic and utilitarian character makes them especially 
appropriate objects of public institutions, either wholly or to 

254 Society [642-3 

a considerable extent under the supervision of the State or 
the community. Where for any reason the interests of 
culture must be left to private enterprise, the State should 
at least maintain the right of a general supervision over 
them, since their public importance is so great. 

Considerations of this sort apply especially to the two 
most important educational bodies, the Church and the 
school. The interests involved in these institutions, namely, 
the education of the young and the cultivation of religion, 
are so pre-eminently important that the State must do for 
them far more than it does for other associations, where its 
function is merely that of general supervision and the pro- 
tection of lawful interests. The Church, which represents 
the most universal of all intellectual activities, is a power 
that the State must respect if it would pursue its own 
objects undisturbed. At the same time, it must require the 
Church to respect in turn those general moral duties that 
belong to the province of the State. Thus there has grown 
up a relationship between the two, according to which, while 
the State does not give up its right to exert a general super- 
vision over all the corporations within its bounds, it must 
be prepared, on account of the important interests involved, 
to allow the Church more rights than it could ever give to 
any other association. On the other hand, the function of 
the school is recognised to be so pre-eminently political that 
the State has taken under its own guardianship even those 
educational associations which have arisen as a result of 
private enterprise, and has thus withdrawn the whole system 
of education from the ordinary system of associational ac- 
tivity. Of course, this does not mean that educational 
societies may not support and co-operate with the State. 

643-4] The Community 255 


While individuals are led to associate themselves through 
the various interests of life, economic and financial, profes- 
sional and intellectual, there is another force operating in 
the social order, which, though external, is yet of prime 
importance because its influence is so constraining. It is 
the fact that human lives are lived in spatial proximity to 
one another. Formerly, when the social sentiment was still 
restricted within the limits of immediate spatial contiguity, 
it was natural that the State and the community should 
coincide. As the national life became more comprehensive, 
the community gradually lost its original significance. But 
it preserved all those interests which depend on the close 
association of individuals, and to a certain extent these 
needs can be more adequately satisfied by reason of its 
narrower sphere of duty. 

Within its limited sphere, the function of the neighbour- 
hood or community is to protect and further all those 
departments of life which require the immediate co-operation 
of individuals. The restoration and support of trade, the 
proper construction of dwellings, the maintenance of public 
order, the protection of important professional interests, care 
for the general culture, — all these are, it is true, partly under 
the supervision and charge of the State, but they are also in 
part important problems for the independent exercise of 
the functions of the community. In all such matters the 
community stands for a subordinate social will, which is 
represented by an organisation analogous to the State's con- 
stitution ; while at the same time, since its organisation is 
a fixed part of that of the State, it is itself dependent on 
the State. 

This association of individuals living in spatial proximity 
into a kind of state within the State is ethically important 

256 Society [644 

chiefly in two respects. First, along with its many ways of 
looking after the outward needs of life the community really 
assumes moral duties as well. Where the ends it serves are 
themselves morally indifferent, still the general rule holds 
good that they must not conflict with moral norms, but 
must, wherever possible, advance the moral life, indirectly at 
least. In order that the community may keep this duty 
constantly in mind, it is especially important that it shall 
be governed by the will of the State, which is still more 
comprehensive, and hence less accessible to egoistic interests. 
Thus it is not desirable to allow communities too great 
autonomy. Large cities, though for other reasons they have 
many moral disadvantages, have one advantage : the spirit 
of their government is more apt to be like that of the State. 
This tendency is materially strengthened by the fact that 
in the more fruitful social medium of such communities it 
is possible to provide more adequately for the interests of 

There is another aspect of community life that is im- 
portant for morals. The life of a community furnishes to 
the individual an immediate and present type of the life of 
the State. It is a necessary result of the more comprehensive 
nature of the State that the national consciousness tends to 
be lost in those individuals who are removed from a direct 
share in political problems. They feel the burdens and 
duties imposed on them by the State, but never realise the 
necessity and the great moral importance of the State's 
existence. The community is the very thing that can re- 
present to them in visible form the benefits of united activity. 
It gives them an opportunity to practise the virtues of public 
spirit for which their position in life offers but a limited 
scope. The effects of this practice extend far beyond the 
sphere of its origin. Their interest for the common concerns 
of the neighbourhood arouses in them a broader public spirit, 

644-5] The Community 257 

through which they learn to regard the State and the nation 
as the more important and higher unity, whose prosperity 
is essential to that of all subordinate spheres of life. In 
order that life in the community may really furnish such an 
education for life in the State, it is, of course, necessary not 
only that the organisation of the community shall be such 
as to produce a lively interest on the part of the citizens, but 
that the constitution and administration of the State shall 
establish a bond between its life and that of the community, 
which shall show the citizens of the community that they 
are first of all citizens of the State. 





THE State may be regarded as a financial body in two 
senses. First, as a community made up of citizens 
banded together into an economic unit, it is itself a property 
holder; its right to dispose of its property being as inde- 
pendent as that of an individual. Secondly, it is the power 
that regulates all the property relations existing between 
individuals or subordinate corporations, and decides in doubt- 
ful cases. It orders the conditions on which commerce and 
the exchange, both internal and external, of economic pro- 
ducts depend. We must consider the ethical aspect of the 
State's functions in both these directions. 

It is a necessary consequence of its independent existence 
and its actual needs that the State should be a property 
holder. Since it surpasses all its organs and subordinate 
parts both in the degree of its independence and in the 
scope of its needs, it has a natural claim to be regarded as 
the first of all property holders, transcending by virtue of 
the extent of its property all others in power and influence. 
The nature of its possessions is determined in part by its 
own nature and in part by that of its needs. The State 
includes not only the generation now living, but the whole 
people as an unity, in its history and in that future for which 
the life of the present is preparing. Hence there is an 


645-6] The State a Financial Community 259 

especial fitness in entrusting to State guardianship those 
kinds of property which must not be expended on objects 
of merely transitory value, unless the permanent interests 
of the nation's welfare are to suffer. Further, whenever the 
conduct of business is so important for the good of society 
that it cannot be left to the casual charge of individuals, the 
State must intervene, either directly or indirectly, by means 
of communities and associations acting in accord with it and 
under its supervision. There is, finally, a third department, 
whose limits depend on time and circumstances, where the 
State may exercise special business and economic functions. 
An interest may be in urgent need of protection, either to 
avoid a degree of competition that involves too great a strain 
on human energies, or to stand in the way when the strong 
threaten to make profit out of the weak, and small property 
owners are in danger of becoming the prey of a few schemers. 
Under such circumstances as these, with their various com- 
binations, the State has to possess itself of more or less real 
estate, and it has also to take charge of the more general 
branches of industry, especially the management of all the 
institutions of commerce. 

In all such cases the State is the first of property owners 
and managers. As it sometimes usurps or delegates to 
private activities forms of business that may be carried on 
by individuals, so its legal status is that of a single subject 
among other individuals or corporate subjects. At times it 
has to protect its own rights against those of others ; and 
at times it must yield, when the legal order which it has 
established recognises the rights of individuals as superior to 
its own. 

From this relation of the State to individual citizens is 
derived its further relationship to individual property. It 
is not merely the first of property holders, but it has a power 
of far greater importance, — that of regulating all property 

260 The State [646-7 

relations and, in so far as they are in accord with the order 
it has established, protecting them. In so doing the State 
assumes sovereignty over all property. It asserts this right 
with especial force by claiming, wherever it deems such a 
proceeding essential for the interests of society, the privilege 
of appropriating property itself. Thus the right of expro- 
priation, which belongs directly to no corporation but the 
State, is a plain intimation to the individual that with all his 
earnings and possessions he is working in the service of the 

The economic life of individuals is in like manner under 
State governance. Here the attention of the State is directed 
towards the welfare of the nation as a whole, to whose 
interests the individual must subordinate himself. With this 
in view, the State seeks to regulate internal and external 
commerce. In governing the former it tries, as far as 
possible, to further individual freedom, since this is the 
vital condition for the best development of economic forces. 
Its regulation of external commerce is governed by a regard 
for the demands of the public welfare. Thus, despite the 
many ways in which economic forces oppose each other 
within the State, externally it is an unity under whose 
protection and restraining supervision the individual carries 
on his own private enterprise. 

In all these ways economic life, if it involves a proper 
balancing of individual interests against those of the whole, 
tends to develop that sentiment of public spirit which is 
an indispensable basis for the performance of the higher 
tasks of the State. But physical life, for the State as for 
the individual, is but a means to an end, not an end in 
itself. And the truth of this finds unequivocal expression 
in the legal order of the State, which, embracing all depart- 
ments of the State's activity, everywhere asserts the moral 
nature of the social will embodied in the State. 

647-8] as a Legal Community 261 


As the State is the foremost of property holders, so it 
is the chief of legal persons. At the same time, it is that 
which gives to all other persons their legal rights. It thus 
represents, to itself and to individuals, the system of objective 
law. Wherever the State owns property or undertakes an 
enterprise it subjects itself to the system which it has 
itself founded. It concludes contracts, performs under- 
takings, and files claims ; and wherever opposing claims 
develop in the course of its relationship with other persons, 
it enters into legal contests with individuals and submits 
itself to the decision of its own appointed courts. Thus 
in what it does and undergoes it realises to the highest 
extent the principle of justice : it voluntarily subjects itself 
to the judgment of its own organs. Justice of this sort, 
whose ruling motive is to seek the right for its own sake 
and not for personal interest, can be manifested only by a 
collective entity like the State. The individual may thus 
find in the State an ideal example of the spirit in which 
rights should be contested. 

It is only by the exercise of justice without regard to 
persons, or even to its own advantage, that the State can 
undertake at once to decide legal contests between its 
members and to establish the norms according to which 
such contests ought to be settled. This fact is especially 
important as adding moral force to the reason for giving 
the State jurisdiction even in cases that do not involve 
injury to individuals, but rather a serious breach of the 
moral law in general. We have already seen how the 
right of punishment has been gradually taken out of the 
hands of the party injured, though it is still regarded as 
involving a private grievance. 1 The idea that it is the State 
1 Cf. Part I., chap, iii., pp. 269 ff. 

262 The State [648-9 

alone which has the right and duty of avenging a breach of 
the moral order has grown up along with recognition of the 
fact that, even in a contest between individuals, the State, 
rather than the individual, has the function and the power 
of exercising justice. But the exercise of the right of 
punishment is better adapted than any other department 
of the legal order to arouse and intensify the consciousness 
of the State's moral tasks. Further, the high moral value 
of the State, as a moral community standing above the 
individual, is expressed in the fact that it ranks assaults 
on its own stability, or against the person of an agent 
representing any one of its manifold functions, on the same 
plane with the gravest moral offences. 

As the life of individuals needs external aids and laws, 
which in turn must have a certain order and regularity to 
prevent the occurrence of disturbances that might have a 
bad effect on morals, so the life of the State cannot get 
on without similar aids and regulations. In fact, its need 
for them is far more urgent than the individual's, because 
its functions are more comprehensive, and because it lacks 
the immediate unity of self-consciousness and will that the 
individual personality possesses. Matters that in the life 
of the individual are left to custom and habit the State 
prescribes by laws and enactments, whose non-observance 
involves either punishment or some other disadvantage. 
Under this head we have, first of all, the whole police 
system. On the one hand, in the regulations it makes for 
the protection of public security, it trenches on the ground 
of penal law. On the other, it undertakes to preserve health 
and facilitate life in general by means of certain useful 
precautions. It is thus a helpful and controlling factor in 
the activity of private individuals and of communities. 

The State exerts a similar kind of external regulative 
function when it requires that the execution of the norms 

649-S°] as a Legal Community 263 

of private and penal law in lawsuits shall be subject to 
certain rules for the investigation and establishment of rights. 
The individual may sometimes feel a certain sense of injustice 
in cases where the outcome of a lawsuit is influenced by the 
outward forms of the civil process, which are based on 
arbitrary enactments, rather than by a regard to the objective 
facts of the case. Undeniably such cases do often result in 
the assertion that something is just when it is not really just, 
and when the assertion can be maintained only by assuming 
certain facts which perhaps have no actual existence, or by 
neglecting other facts which did not find expression in the 
course of the transaction ; as, for instance, when the de- 
fendant fails to avail himself of the legal delays in 
proceedings, or to produce certain evidence that is at his 
disposal. But precisely because the State makes it the duty 
of each individual to look after his own rights, it must now 
and then do what is not objectively right for the very sake 
of right and justice. If when there is a legal contest 
between individuals the State itself were to produce the 
evidence pro and con, it would have a difficult business on 
its hands, and one where the investigation would be exposed 
in many ways to accidents ; for the nature of these relation- 
ships of private right withdraws them from publicity. But 
since it is the highest interest of both parties to present all 
the evidence at their disposal, and since they themselves 
are in the best position to adduce such evidence, the State 
has ordained that all civil processes shall be conducted on 
the principle that the parties themselves shall present the 
evidence, and that proofs not adduced by them shall be 
treated as non-existent, though the judge may have private 
information that such evidence exists. The only way of 
realising justice in such matters is for this rule to be main- 
tained without exception, the decision of the judge being 
entirely uninfluenced by the accidental possession of know- 

264 The State [650-1 

ledge which it is equally possible that he might not have had. 
Moreover, the principle that every man must look out for 
his own rights is a powerful educative influence in developing 
the sentiment of right. If the individual's subjective rights 
were a gift bestowed upon him and accepted by him from 
without, with neither help nor hindrance from himself, a great 
part of their moral worth would be lost. By associating 
certain legal disadvantages with the neglect of one's rights, 
the law makes it a duty to fight for them. While it cannot 
directly punish the omission of this duty, neither can it 
reward such omission by giving the individual advantages 
he has not striven to secure. Thus along with the other 
duty imposed by every right there goes the duty which 
devolves upon its possessor to protect it. Only when this 
duty is universally acknowledged can justice have its fullest 
sway. Where the individual's weakness and carelessness lead 
him to surrender his right without resistance to the claims 
of others, injustice triumphs. 1 

Evidently other principles must govern the trial of cases 
where there has been a violation of public rights or of the 
law itself. Here the State is the party immediately con- 
cerned, and hence must do all it can to bring to light the 
true condition of affairs. And just because it is directly 
concerned, it recognises its own obligation to place at the 
disposal of the accused all possible means of defence. Here, 
where the law is itself, so to speak, a party in the case, it 
makes no difference whether the accused is or is not aware 
of his own rights. The State gives him a counsel, who is 

1 R. von Jhering (in his work Dcr Kavipf urns Recht, 7th ed., Vienna, 1884; 
5th ed., trans, by J. J. Lalor, Chicago, 1879), is quite right in opposing the wide- 
spread tendency that leads people to give up their rights for the sake of avoiding 
the inconvenience of bringing a, lawsuit. Of course, however, as Jhering himself 
points out, the struggle for one's rights ceases to be a duty where the right violated 
has no ethical significance, especially where there has been no slight cast upon the 

651] as a Legal Community 265 

thoroughly versed in the matter, and whose duty it is to 
protect his client's right to the best of his power. Here, 
again, we have an expression of the thought that when the 
rights of the State are concerned, it must exercise justice 
even against itself. 

In all the departments of law hitherto discussed the State 
exercises its function as the protector and upholder of the 
moral order that it has established. On the other hand, it 
fulfils the task of furthering all the material and intellectual 
interests of life by means of the administrative organisation 
that it creates. And it expresses the need of regulating in 
some definite fashion the division of functions required for 
the various manifestations of the State's will by means of its 
constitution. The latter encompasses the State with certain 
special regulations that guard it against violation from any 
of its organs and against changes of a precipitate nature 
which ignore the gradual character of the State's develop- 

The administrative and constitutional functions of the 
State presuppose the activity of manifold agencies. It is 
even more important here than in the other departments of 
law, that the individuals and corporations whose interests are 
affected should be enabled to take an active part in affairs 
as far as possible, not only because the real need of society 
will thus be best served, but even more, perhaps, because 
there is no other way to develop in the individual a livelier 
national sentiment, and to make him share in the spirit 
of universal progress, so that he may be led to look beyond 
the narrow horizon of personal and transitory interests. 
There is more chance and more demand for this kind of 
personal participation in the system of administration, since 
the various gradations of the system itself come into touch 
with the workings of communities and other more limited 
spheres of interest. By the nature of the case the in- 

266 The State [651-2 

dividual's share in the legislative and constitutional functions 
of the State must be remoter and less direct. For the 
majority of citizens it is limited to the exercise of the right 
of franchise, and the activity of political societies, which 
grows out of this right and supports it. There is in addi- 
tion the fact that each citizen is enabled, by reason of the 
publicity given to the proceedings of representative assem- 
blies, to understand the real state of legislative matters and 
of political affairs in general. Such publicity is a just and 
natural compensation for the very limited extent to which 
the citizens of a state can take active part in this most 
important of the State's functions. In many instances the 
publicity given to legislative transactions may be of more 
use, because of the interest in State affairs which it awakens, 
than the content of the transactions themselves. A doctrine 
quite the reverse of this is the theory, based on ethical 
and political individualism, that the representative assembly 
is, actually or potentially, the opinion of the whole nation, 
and that the essential meaning of the representative system 
is a realisation of the imperium omnium. This fiction rests 
on the idea that the State is merely the sum of its members, 
and that in consequence representatives really, as their name 
indicates, deliberate and decide in the stead of the whole 
nation. If such a view were correct, they would be obliged 
to decide in every case according to the opinion of their 
constituents. This notion of the constant dependence of 
a representative on his constituents is justly repudiated by 
all constitutions, which take more account of the State's 
independence than do many theories about the nature of 
the State. Constitutions always make it the duty of every 
member of a legislative assembly to vote in each case 
according to his independent conviction. 

As the State is not identical with the sum of its citizens, 
so it is not to be divided into a number of independent 

6 5 2 ~3] as a Legal Community 267 

powers, cohering only by virtue of the fact that they influence 
the same individuals. Such a division is often made by the 
adherents of a theory closely akin to the one just stated : the 
theory of " separation of powers." Though the State assigns 
different functions to different organs for good and sufficient 
reasons, because, as the most comprehensive of all corpora- 
tions, it cannot dispense with the principle of the division 
of labour, this does not mean that it abandons its essential 
unity. Hence it is especially erroneous to call this division a 
separation of powers. In accordance with the objects for 
which it exists, the division of functions is carried out most 
completely in the subordinate organs of the State's life, 
those devoted to the less comprehensive tasks. But all 
departments must be ultimately combined in the govern- 
ment. While there may be, even in the case of the 
government, division of labour with regard to minor pro- 
blems, such division is no longer possible where important 
affairs are concerned, since matters of this sort have more or 
less influence on all departments of the State's activity. The 
series of authorities culminates in the person of the Sovereign, 
who unites in himself the legislative, executive and judicial 
powers, in that he gives his sanction to the laws and assents 
to all the more important administrative regulations and to 
the organisation of the judiciary. 

It is of the greatest importance, not only for the State's 
own efficiency, but for the development of a national con- 
sciousness among its citizens, that the essential unity of the 
State shall thus appear to be comprehended in a single 
personality. By reason of the comprehensive nature of the 
State, a maturer moral insight is needed to understand its real 
nature and subordinate the individual will to the social will 
from motives of pure respect to the moral worth of the latter. 
But, in order to develop such a disposition, the power and 
dignity of the State must first be represented to the individual 

268 The State [653-4 

in an individual form. This is why it is so desirable for the 
person of the ruler to be withdrawn from party controversy 
and the variable results of elections. As the State itself is 
above all changing interest, so should be the personality 
of him who is called upon to embody, under a form directly 
apparent to the senses, the unity of the State in the unity 
of his own being. 

But, of course, the Sovereign remains an individual man, 
and as such can never be quite free from the prejudices and 
propensities of his environment. Hence it is not desirable 
that the development of national consciousness should never 
proceed beyond this individual form. The earliest means to 
political education should not be the final fruit of political 
culture. As public sentiment and a love for the benefits 
of a common intellectual life, so far transcending all in- 
dividual interests, increase along with the development of 
insight and the growing participation of individuals in the 
tasks of national life, men must come to realise that while 
an individual embodiment of the national consciousness is 
of value because it is a symbolic form that can be appreciated 
by everyone, the worth of the symbol is less than that of its 
significance. At this higher stage of development the 
universal character of the State will be felt as a characteristic 
that increases rather than lessens its value for individuals ; 
for the whole worth of those supreme goods to which man 
dedicates his life rests on the fact that he does not think 
of them as individual like himself. All sacrifice demands 
the yielding up of self. And this, in its purest form, is 
possible only where we have not to do with another self. 

6 S4-s] as a Social Unit 269 


The State and society are equally primitive. The con- 
ditions on which the unity of the State is based are identical 
with those from which the union of different ranks, different 
financial classes, and forms of occupation into one society has 
resulted. Nay, the two unifying processes themselves are 
not to be thought of as distinct. The parts of society 
originated independently of the existence of the State, out 
of the general conditions of life ; but their combination into 
a society is the work of the State, which is continually carry- 
ing on the process of unification, while its own regulations, in 
turn, are no less dependent on the nature of society. 

In consequence of this reciprocal relationship, while the 
State and society have such close and immediate reference 
to one another, while the one can hardly exist without the 
other, they appear in the life of humanity as opposing forces 
which were for a long time in actual conflict. Society is 
throughout governed by centrifugal impulses. Its tendency 
is to separate those who live in spatial juxtaposition and 
dependence by dividing them into various classes based on 
birth, property, occupation and interests, and into different 
circles according to the degree of their intellectual culture. 
Of course, such divisions themselves ultimately rest on that 
unifying tendency which always leads men to associate with 
those of their own kind. But the influence of this tendency 
is at first felt within very limited circles, and hence it is the 
greatest possible hindrance to the more perfect union of the 
members of a nation in the State. Each one of these small 
circles, so long as it subordinates national sentiment to its 
own narrower interests, strives to be an independent whole, 
and is unwilling to acknowledge a superior will. 

The historical conditions of social development have been 
such as to render the origin and growth of these centrifugal 

270 The State [655-6 

tendencies very gradual. In the early stages of civilisation, 
either because social distinctions were too imperfect or the 
authority of a few ruling classes too powerful, there could 
be no such thing as the coexistence of different and inde- 
pendent social units. In this sense the State existed before 
society, and it is certainly fortunate that such was the case ; 
that when the strife between the various classes of society 
began there was already in existence a national unity based 
on tradition. Thus the conflict between classes at first took 
the form of rivalry for the possession of the ruling power. 
Often, indeed, as in the case of the German States during 
the Middle Ages, it resulted in the coexistence of inde- 
pendent associations, whereby the unity of the State sank to 
the level of a mere fiction. Thus throughout the develop- 
ment of national life we can trace the conflict of the State 
with society. The State emerged victorious from this conflict, 
but not uninfluenced by the disorganising forces of society. 
In order peacefully to assimilate society, it had to adapt 
itself to the divisions that society had brought about. Thus 
social distinctions reacted to organise the State. The divi- 
sion of social forces that originated in custom and the needs 
of life gave rise to important political institutions, and in 
turn derived security from these institutions. And so out 
of the divisions of society there arose a completer division 
of the functions of the State. This, again, made it possible 
for the State to direct and guide society and to superintend 
its various departments. The State is now, in one of its 
essential aspects, the organisation of society. 

With this result we have the conclusion of peace between 
society and the State. True, it is a peace that is still liable 
to be disturbed by the strife between social classes, but strife 
of this sort has now another significance from that which it 
formerly possessed. Its object is to bring about changes in 
the social order by means of the State, or at least with the 

656-7] as a Social Unit 271 

State's help, not to abolish the State or put it under the 
governance of a single class. If desires of this latter sort 
are not wholly wanting, they are concealed behind demands of 
a more general political character. Thus the supremacy of the 
State over society is recognised on all sides. Even the most 
impracticable of all political parties, Anarchism, requires the 
State to abdicate in favour of the individual, not of society ; 
indeed, its project is to annihilate society first and the State 
afterwards, since the latter is a necessity at least until society 
has ceased to exist. 

Since the State is organised society, a co-ordination of all 
social forces into a single whole, evidently the organisation 
of the State must correspond to the natural divisions of 
society. Hence the attempt to put into force, without refer- 
ence to existing relationships, constitutions and systems of 
administration that are drawn up after some philosophical 
model supposed to apply to all ages, is an attack made by 
the State upon society, and indirectly upon itself. But, of 
course, the law that the State exists for the sake of society 
must not be applied in its extreme and partial sense, as has 
often been the case. The reverse is also true : society exists 
for the sake of the State. Nay, the relation of the two is 
such that the State should be regarded as the higher aggre- 
gation of the forces of the national will, as that to which 
society owes its very existence, since without the State it 
would disintegrate into scattered parts. Hence the State 
must be allowed the right to interfere with the existing 
organisation of society, especially when the tendency of such 
interference is towards a higher grade of civilisation. Thus, 
as a matter of fact, many distinctions of position and rank 
have been abrogated or weakened because the State took 
away privileges, removed restrictions upon liberty, or ex- 
tended the sphere of political rights. 

The State performs a pre-eminently moral function in thus 

272 The State [657 

seeking with a wise moderation and a due regard for the 
conditions of historical development to reform society, or, 
if necessary, to alter its whole constitution. It rescues social 
structures from the hazards of their mode of origin and 
adapts them to its own plans, which are guided by the moral 
purposes of the whole. Society as such lives in the present : 
but the State is absorbed in the problems of the future, and 
thus enlists the more transitory forces of social life in the 
service of enduring ends. It must therefore direct its atten- 
tion chiefly to the support of all those bonds of association 
and union among individuals which tend to further a neces- 
sary division of labour and the participation of citizens in 
the general objects sought by the State. And it must seek 
to obviate all those forms of friction between social classes 
that operate to retard the moral functions of the whole. 


In the tasks that the State has to perform for society its 
most powerful aid is intellectual culture, whose guidance it 
recognises to be one of its most important duties. It thus 
serves in the first instance the needs of the present, by 
seeking to enable every citizen to pursue his calling, to look 
out for his rights as a citizen, and to fulfil his duty towards 
the whole. At the same time it directs its care toward the 
future. It tries to better the social position of the lower 
classes by working for their intellectual elevation, and thus 
to compensate for the distinctions between social classes, so 
far as such a result is desirable, and in accord with the 
demands of legal and moral equality and of the harmonious 
moral co-operation of all social elements. 

Nowhere is the supremacy of the State's moral function 

657-8] in the Advancement of Culture 273 

over that of the individual more strikingly expressed than 
in that general care for the interests of culture, which it 
claims as at once a right and a duty. Plato's demand that 
education should be entrusted to the State has been realised 
in the modern State, at least approximately. Of course, it 
is not realised quite as the philosopher conceived it, and 
yet here, as elsewhere, the fulfilment in a certain sense 
exceeds the fancied ideal. The State's education does not 
supplant that of the family ; it supplements it. The latter 
represents more particularly the individual, the latter the 
social aspect of moral education ; that is, it prepares the 
individual for his occupation and position as a citizen. 

With this object in view, the first and chief function of 
the State as an institution for the promotion of culture is 
the superintendence of instruction. While, to avoid un- 
necessary restrictions on individual freedom, the State 
permits the formation of private educational societies, so 
far as they are not inimical to its own ends, and merely 
reserves the right of supervision over them ; the fundamental 
idea of its educational system must be that of public 
instruction. For public instruction is not only the most 
practicable method, and hence the best for the individual ; 
it is, in addition, the most effective way of securing that 
uniformity of culture which is so desirable, and there is 
more likelihood that it will be undertaken from motives of 
fidelity to public duty. Here the teacher exercises his 
office, not on the ground of a private contract based on 
mutual advantage, but in virtue of his sense of public duty ; 
and the importance of this fact is not to be underestimated. 
In addition, public education brings together members of 
various ranks in life, which is a good thing, especially in 
the education of boys. We cannot begin too early to combat 
the spirit of caste that is the result of a narrow education 
based on class distinctions. And just here public instruction 


274 The State [658-9 

furnishes a wholesome counterpoise to education in the 
family, which is of a more exclusive nature. 

For these reasons educational societies or corporations, 
which have of necessity other functions, can at most never do 
more than supplement the educational work of the State. 
Not only do private educational bodies lack the authority 
necessary to direct public instruction, which enables the 
State to compel children to be educated, if compulsion is 
necessary. They do not make sufficient provision for the 
proper organisation of educational institutions, an organisa- 
tion that shall recognise the political side of public 
instruction. When the authority of the State needs a deputy 
or an assistant, the community would seem to be the social 
body that is called on to serve, since, as a part of the 
political organisation, it is best adapted to work in 
accordance with the purposes and under the oversight of 
the State. However, the political importance of the 
instruction of the young is so great that here, as in other 
matters which transcend the sphere of community life, the 
State, which is primarily responsible for them, is also best 
fitted to undertake their immediate direction. So that 
nowadays any kind of external assistance, even that of the 
community, should be regarded as merely an imperfect 
substitute for the direction of the State. While in the 
larger cities, where administration is more far-seeing than 
that of smaller communities, the disadvantage of combining 
the more ideal ends of national culture with the predominant 
local interests of the community may be less, yet such 
exceptions do not alter the rule that all instruction, since 
the State has a far greater interest in it than any other 
body, is the proper function of the State. 

The Church is still more unfitted than the community 
to act as a substitute for the State, or even as an auxiliary 
to it, in the sphere of education. In the church or the 

659-60] in the Advancement of Culture 275 

religious society to which he belongs, the individual seeks 
to satisfy his religious needs, and at the same time to 
supplement the religious education of the young. Now 
religious instruction belongs by its nature to that part of 
education which is carried on in the family and the home, 
not in the publicity of the schools. This is not to say that 
the school should have no part in religious education. In 
so far as religious culture is an inalienable part of general 
culture, especially for the classes represented in national 
schools, it cannot be neglected in the school. But the 
object of public instruction is to make men and citizens, 
not adherents of any particular religious society. Hence 
it is especially undesirable that the State should surrender 
the charge of instruction into the care of the Church or the 
various religious bodies, if, as should be the case, its citizens 
belong to different religious societies according to their 
convictions. In such a case, where the Church gets control 
of education or even a decisive influence, it will naturally 
regard the religious side of instruction as of prime im- 
portance. Hence it will, as a matter of principle, admit 
only its own members to its schools, or tolerate those of 
other faiths only in cases of necessity. Education under 
the guidance of the Church means, then, a division of general 
instruction according to differences of church and creed. 
This means a division among the young in all those 
circumstances which should prepare them for their secular 
occupations and their position as citizens, a division of the 
intellectual culture of the nation in accordance with religious 
differences and such political views as are thereby deter- 
mined. But the end at which the State should aim, in 
order to train its citizens into a national community, is 
unity of education, whereby at all stages of instruction 
the members of various classes and religious faiths shall 
be united. 

276 The State [660-1 

Of course, if we are to hold to the postulate that the State 
should have a share in the religious education of the young, 
such an unity involves the supposition that those fundamental 
religious views which influence public education are, like the 
general and basal principles of knowledge, universally true. 
And for our own State at present, and the civilisation it 
represents, there can be no reasonable doubt that these 
fundamental truths are those of Christianity. 1 The small 
minority of freethinkers and Jews, who, while they reject 
the material of the Christian system, are open to its in- 
fluence upon our religious and moral conceptions of the 
world, cannot be allowed to determine the education of 
the body of citizens as a whole. They may be suffered 
to care for the religious instruction of their young people 
outside of the schools, but to demand that the course of 
public education shall be decided with reference to such ex- 
ceptional instances is out of the question. The case is other- 
wise with the various Christian churches and creeds. Since 
they all acknowledge in the life and teaching of Jesus that 

1 I must not omit to state that in making the above observations I have had 
German conditions chiefly in mind. I do not deny that other considerations may 
have some weight in other nations, — America, for instance, where, owing to the 
influence of a more developed sectarianism, the separation of Church and State 
affects the very heart of individual life much more than among us. But I doubt 
whether American conditions represent a desirable ideal in this respect. The 
complete exclusion of religious culture from national schools, which other nations 
seek to bring about, has yet to vindicate itself by practical tests. I do not believe 
that, in the education of the young, compendia of utilitarian ethics such as are 
introduced in France can ever take the place of that concrete embodiment of the 
ideal conduct of life which religious theory has to present. Aside from the glaring 
pedagogical error that they involve, such attempts at reform seem to me to con- 
jure up the very evil that they ought to prevent. For the inevitable correlate of 
national education without religion is unrestrained licence for private or Church 
educational institutions, which, entering into competition with the State, en- 
danger its influence on education. Reforms of this sort are meaningless, except 
where, against the evidence of history and human nature, the right of religion to 
existence is contested. If the intention is to carry on a war of extermination 
against religion, such a campaign would naturally begin in the schools. 

66i-2] in the Advancement of Culture 277 

historical form of the religious consciousness which governs 
all the tendencies of our moral life, they must allow that 
life and that teaching, as it appears when separated from 
later dogmatic formulas and traditional elements that are 
opposed to the knowledge of the present day, to be the 
universal foundation for a Christian system of religious 
instruction. The only basis for public religious teaching 
in a State that is Christian in all its civilisation, and yet 
allows free play to all kinds of Christian dogma, is an 
undogmatic Christianity, representing the common element 
in all Christian creeds. The teaching of creeds and 
dogmas must be left to the discretion of the adherents of 
such creeds. 

There are a few people even to-day who, mostly with a 
sincere intent to serve religious interests, hold that religious 
instruction without creeds is of no value, and that a religious 
education that is not based on a definite confession of faith 
is the same thing as education without any religion at all. 
We must suppose, for the credit of those who calmly 
express such opinions, that they are unconscious of the 
import of their words. For if what we call the Christian 
religion were really constituted, not by the life and teachings 
of Christ, but by the Confession of Augsburg or the Tri- 
dentine Decrees, probably the whole body of truly religious 
persons, as well as the whole community of thinkers, would 
turn from it. What sort of ideas can a man have on the 
value of religious education, if he thinks it is derived chiefly 
from dogmatic structures, whose origin from the complex 
interaction of religious ideas and philosophic systems is 
well known, and which escape doing serious harm to the 
child's mind only because, as a general thing, they are 
appropriated by the memory and not by the mind ? Surely 
the permanent moral worth of Christianity consists not in 
these artificial intellectual structures, wherein is displayed 

278 The State [662-3 

the theological acumen of centuries; but in the plain teach- 
ings of Jesus, which are accessible at every stage of intel- 
lectual development, and in the human part of the New 
Testament history, freed from the mythological alloy of 
a wonder-loving age. 

For one thing is unmistakably true. That form of belief 
which makes the founder of the religion of humanity into 
a god, thereby in reality divesting him of his human and 
moral significance, has, along with belief in the Trinity and 
in miracle, lost its power even over those who still call 
themselves Christians with entire conviction. And the 
number of those who are wholly alienated from the system 
of dogmatic traditions has increased among all classes and 
grades of enlightenment, in proportion as men have become 
generally convinced that this system is in contradiction with 
all the other elements of our intellectual culture. Then 
shall our intellectual culture retrograde, in order that 
humanity may recover the simple and happy faith of 
earlier centuries ? Or shall Christianity itself move forward, 
like everything else in history, in order to keep its value 
for the world of to-day? The answer to this question can 
hardly be doubtful. But our decision as to the proper spirit 
in which the religious part of public education should be 
carried out is independent even of such considerations. The 
broad, human foundation of the Christian view of the world 
is of value even to the man who is unwilling to give up the 
specific traditions of his church, and he is at liberty to 
supplement the former with the latter. On the other hand, 
if a man is convinced that a Christianity which is to survive 
can tolerate no element of mythology, we cannot wish to 
make him transmit as sacred truth to his children what he 
does not himself believe. 

While the unity of the State's life demands uniformity of 

663] in the Advancement of Culture 279 

public instruction, independent of differences in politics and 
creed, this does not exclude the possibility of differences that 
are justified by provincial and other outward conditions, 
though such differences have but a transitory significance. 
In fact, even the distinction between town and country is not 
absolutely permanent in this respect. The growing mobility 
of the population involves increasing similarity of educational 

A more important distinction is one that is based on the 
separation of social classes, namely, the distinction between 
primary and secondary education, as we see it in the 
difference between national schools, properly so called, and 
Biirgerschule (grammar schools, lit. citizen schools), or Real- 
schule (high schools), as they are less appropriately termed 
nowadays. It is the function of the latter, as the name 
Biirgerschule indicates, to provide to a greater extent than 
the former all necessary aids to the education of a citizen. 
They furnish to all students of sufficient means and con- 
sequence an adequate degree of general culture, excluding 
only preparation for the learned professions. There exists an 
unmistakable tendency towards equalising even these grades 
of primary and secondary education. But certain distinctions 
remain associated with differences of social position. How- 
ever, as the latter is no longer dependent solely on birth and 
inherited property, intellectual gifts are beginning to secure 
more rights even in education, for it is becoming easier for 
one who has the capacity to obtain better instruction. And 
this facilitation of the passage from one grade of instruction 
to another is itself the chief means of securing that wholesome 
mobility in the social world which allows scope for talent 
to develop along its proper lines. 

The dividing line drawn by the nature of different pro- 
fessions between the broadly humane culture that is sought 

280 The State [663-4 

in primary and secondary education and the scientific culture 
that is pursued in higher institutions of learning is more 
permanent. It is evident that neither kind of training should 
consist exclusively of technical preparation ; at least not until 
just before the transition to practical professional work. The 
influence of an age that makes too much of immediate utility 
has not always been favourable to the real needs of higher 
culture. We have forgotten that man must be trained, not 
only for his profession, but for his place as a citizen ; and 
that this latter makes certain general demands on his educa- 
tion, according to the station in life that he occupies. His 
social position does influence these demands, but the special 
branch of business that has fallen to his lot in that position 
makes no difference. We have already pointed out which 
departments of knowledge are adapted to serve as the 
general scientific basis of secondary and higher education. 1 

It seems to me that one of the unhappiest results of this 
utilitarian tendency in instruction is the partially successful 
attempt to divide our whole system of higher education into 
two branches, the one devoted to the realistic, the other to 
the humanistic disciplines. This distinction does not greatly 
affect the practical needs of professional life. Everyone 
knows that both kinds of education produce equally able 
mathematicians, physicians, etc. Surely, however, it is most 
undesirable that the whole body of those who have undergone 
the higher education should be divided into two classes, 
whose interests, intellectual needs and general attitudes 
towards the world are partly dissimilar. But here, again, the 
tendency on the part of the lower class to reach the level 
of the higher would seem to offer a method of bringing about 
uniformity. When each system has appropriated the best 
points in the other; when, in consequence, the differences 
1 Cf. chap, i., p. 215. 

664-5] in the Advancement of Culture 


between the two have become so slight that no one can see 
why they exist, the distinction will vanish. And the result 
will not be unfavourable to the ends of higher culture as 
a single whole. 

In directing the various grades of instruction, the objects 
for which the State works are primarily social, though at the 
same time it meets the needs of individuals. On the other 
hand, it combines the interests of society with those of 
humanity at large, by seeking to further the ends of science 
and art beyond the domain of instruction proper, through 
the medium of public institutions. Private enterprise may 
do much in this sphere, but the best results must be left 
to the State, since it alone has sufficient power and means, 
while in many cases no private individual has time enough 
at his disposal. Here the State fulfils a function whose 
consequences reach far beyond the sphere of its own narrower 
interests. Entering into competition with other nations, and 
supplementing with new achievements the treasures of the 
past, the nation shares in the intellectual life of humanity as 
a whole. 

The State thus unites all the tendencies of national life: 
property and business, law and education. In so doing, the 
objects that it follows are more various than those of any 
other association of individuals. Only the individual person- 
ality resembles the State in this respect. Along with the 
manifold nature of its purposes, the State has also an entire 
freedom in the choice of new courses, such as belongs to 
no other entity but the individual. For good reasons, it 
makes but a limited use of this freedom, extending its activity 
into new fields only by a gradual process of change. In this 
it follows the law of continuity in development, which must 
also guide individuals in the use of their powers. As the 
individual limits himself in his occupation and his endeavours 

282 The State [665-6 

after position and culture, in order that his work in his 
chosen field may be more thorough and more satisfactory 
to himself, so the State restricts its own activity by the legal 
and economic system that it has established, in order to 
allow more scope in the remaining fields for the work of 
individuals, of voluntary associations, and of those political 
organisations that form an immediate part of the State. It 
does this with a wise regard to the interests of society, as 
well as of the individual* But the extent to which it sets 
bounds to its own activity depends on its own free decision, 
made after considering all the circumstances, to a greater 
degree than in the case of the individual ; because when the 
collective will of the State is once directed towards a certain 
end, it meets far fewer obstacles in the accomplishment of 
that end than the individual will does. For this reason, in 
organised and civilised states all decisions of the collective 
will, especially such as refer to new objects not hitherto 
sought by the State, are made under conditions whose aim is 
to lessen the dangers that might arise from this power of the 
social will. The law averts the perils that threaten it from 
individual wills by means of regulations which usually follow 
the breach of law with punishment. But the only way to 
avert the dangers that proceed from the social will is by 
means of measures that precede the action and subject the 
actual decision of the will to conditions which ensure its 
taking place only after due consideration. Aside from the 
relation between the origin and the results of volition in the 
two cases, the collective will of the State has equal autonomy 
with that of the individual. There is no other organisation 
between the individual and the State that can compete with 
either in this respect, or in the multiplicity of its functions. 
Societies, guilds, the community,— all pursue narrower pur- 
poses ; and where they have autonomy in the pursuit of these 

666-7] in the Advancement of Culture 283 

ends, either it arises from the voluntary union of individuals, 
and hence is really based on the autonomy of the individual 
will ; or, as in the case of the community and other political 
organisations, it is derived from the State and is exercised 
only in the fulfilment of the general regulations of the 

It follows that no conception of the State could mistake 
its nature more completely than the individualistic theory 
that derives it from an actual or fictitious social contract, and 
thus identifies it either with society or with some associa- 
tion originating in society through the voluntary assent of 
individuals. We have here a complete reversal of the real 
relation between the State and society. Instead of regarding 
the State in its true light, as the force that brings system and 
order into society, the adherents of this theory suppose that 
the State is an artificial creation made by society, or rather 
by the individuals constituting it. The theory really regards 
the State, not as an organism, but as a machine, in whose 
construction various plans may be followed. The best plan, 
because best suited to the supposed mode of the State's 
origin, is held to be that which restricts the object of the 
State from the outset to certain definite functions, necessary 
in the interests of the individual, but beyond the individual's 
power to perform alone. This conception is the source of 
a theory which was peculiar to the period of the Enlighten- 
ment, and which is not yet extinct: the theory, namely, 
which regarded the State as nothing but a great protective 
institution, whose moral function was at best the negative 
one of removing hindrances to the free exercise of the 
individual's moral impulses. After all that we have said 
on this subject, it is unnecessary to remark that this con- 
ception accords neither with the actual development of the 
State and its functions, nor with its moral purposes for the 

284 The State [667-8 

future, which can be served only by further development 
in the direction hitherto adopted. It is consoling, here as 
elsewhere, to note that while such obsolete ideas still influence 
theory now and then, they have been long since thrown over- 
board in the practical life of the State. 

In the fact that its activity is not restricted to any limited 
number of ends, and in the autonomy of its will, the sole 
counterpart of the State is the individual personality. But 
since these two characteristics — multiplicity of ends and 
autonomy of will — are the essential marks of the concept 
of a person, the State has the nature of a collective 
personality. It is the only association of individuals to 
which this character can be ascribed. All other bodies 
between the individual and the State lack it because they 
are always restricted to a definite range of purposes, and, 
moreover, have not the necessary autonomy; or at least 
their autonomy is only apparent, derived either from the 
State or from their individual members. Hence such a 
more restricted social will acts rather as the representative 
of another personality or a number of personalities than 
as a person itself. Thus we must not confuse the concept 
of personality in the psychological and ethical sense with 
the notion of a legal person. The latter is the way in which 
jurisprudence expresses the idea that an association, a cor- 
poration, or even a foundation endowed for a specific purpose 
shares, within the sphere of ends where it is recognised as a 
legal subject, the same protection that the personal subject 
enjoys. In this intentionally transferred sense every legal 
subject is a ' legal person.' Real persons, on the other hand, 
are those legal subjects alone who are self-conscious and free 
agents : and of such there are but two, the individual person 
and the collective personality of the State. The two are 
distinguished, again, by the fact that in the former self- 
consciousness and will are directly combined into a single 

668] in the Advancement of Culture 285 

whole, while in the latter they are distributed among many 
individual units, so that every volition presupposes a more 
or less complex interaction of individual persons. And it 
is precisely this difference that makes the real significance 
of the collective personality far greater than that of the 
individual person. 1 

1 In the first edition of this work I raised objections against applying the 
concept of personality to the State, or to any real existence other than the 
individual personality (ist ed., p. 551). On closer consideration of the subject, 
however, I find that the character of immediate oneness of self-consciousness and 
will, which I formerly thought should be the test, is too inessential to counter- 
balance the fundamental agreement of the concepts. On the other hand, I think 
it important to lay stress on those points where the individual and the collective 
personality are alike, in order to emphasise the great difference in nature and 
importance between the State and all other associations. For these reasons 
I cannot agree with O. Gierke, when, in his admirable works on the nature 
of associative bodies, he extends the concept of personality to cover cor- 
porations in general. The extension thus ascribed to the notion of a 'real 
collective person' may suffice for juristic purposes and may be of especial 
service in opposing the untenable fiction-theory. But it ignores the very thing 
that constitutes the ethical value of the notion of personality. (O. Gierke, 
Das deutsche Gcnossenschaftsrecht, vol. iii.; and Die Genossenschaftstheorie und 
die dtutsche Rechtsfrechung, Berlin, 1887.) For the rest, I can understand why 
the historian of German law, especially when considering the subject of mediaeval 
corporations in Germany, should be inclined to efface the distinction between 
the legal subject and the real personality. Cf. on this point the observations on 
the ideas of a collective organism and a collective personality, in my System der 
Philosophic, 2nd ed., pp. 616 ff. 

[66 9 



WE know that the peaceful intercourse between nations 
which is a necessary condition of the consumption 
and exchange of goods reaches back to the earliest beginnings 
of history. Commerce, which in old times not infrequently 
took the government itself into its service, has, in proportion 
as the need for it has come to be felt by all civilised nations, 
more and more stimulated the desire to secure peace. Of 
all the factors that have furthered the development of 
humanity, economic intercourse is undoubtedly the one 
that has worked most effectually towards the establishment 
of a system of international law, and thus prepared the 
way for the conception of humanity as a whole, united in 
one common moral life. 

Of course, the bearing of traffic in material goods upon 
the development of the moral life is indirect only. By 
securing the means and improving the conditions of physical 
existence it creates the necessary foundation for morality. 
Moreover, it stimulates many impulses towards intellectual 
perfection, which in its turn helps ethical culture. For 
instance, one of the most effective aids to moral develop- 
ment is that higher form of division of labour which is 
rendered possible by economic intercourse. Since each 
nation can obtain from without the goods it does not itself 


669-70] The Economic Intercourse of Nations 287 

produce, and usually under more favourable conditions than 
if it did produce them, it is enabled to confine itself to those 
departments of industry where its character and external 
conditions make it most effective. 

A new factor is thus introduced into this development. 
The greater the degree of international division of labour, 
the greater is the need for international commerce. What- 
ever interferes with it becomes a serious peril to individual 
existence. It is unnecessary to indicate what powerful in- 
centives for the development in various directions of material 
and intellectual culture, and hence of moral culture, lie in 
this fact. There is just one point that deserves to be 
emphasised, because it is the first clear expression of the 
idea of international law. In the regulation of its economic 
intercourse with other states every nation is guided mainly 
by its own interest. Thus the question as to how and in 
what measure it shall govern the importation and exporta- 
tion of products is decided wholly by weighing the in- 
dividual interests of its various forms of business and the 
collective interests of its citizens. It sacrifices its own 
advantage only for the sake of a greater one. Unselfishness 
is essentially foreign to the realm of economic intercourse ; 
and it is so even more in the life of the State than in that 
of the individual. For the egoism of the State is more 
justifiable than that of the individual, because its ends are 
greater and more permanent. The State is an economic 
unit just like the individual or the family, only with more 
comprehensive functions and far more complex economic 
conditions. It is especially so in its external relations, where 
it seeks to obtain the most favourable conditions for its own 
material existence and that of its members. Nevertheless, 
the idea of equality before the law has penetrated even into 
this field. Not, of course, in the sense of the absolute 
economic identification of one state with another, which 

288 Humanity [670-1 

would be incompatible with the unity of the State, but in 
the principle, which is more and more recognised, that every 
state should regard all others as having equal rights with 
itself. The value of this kind of international equality is 
not diminished by the fact that it is in each case a voluntary 
relation, expressed in the customary forms of economic 
contracts rather than in any universally acknowledged law. 
The " most favoured nation " clause would seem to have a 
meaning of this sort. In proportion as it becomes a per- 
manent form, it is equivalent to a guarantee of equal rights 
to all nations in their intercourse one with another. 


On the basis of material interests and their demand for 
legal protection there has been gradually erected a structure 
of international law, which, extending its influence far 
beyond the sphere of its origin, is beginning to unite all 
civilised states into a higher form of legal community. 

These norms of international law originated out of the 
need of individuals for security. As soon as any permanent 
intercourse between nations had been developed, the State 
was forced to undertake the duty of protecting the persons 
and property of its citizens outside as well as inside its 
own boundaries. The principles of international law, thus 
established, soon extended beyond the field of individual 
ends, and invaded that of the affairs and interests of the 
states themselves. Hence our present system of govern- 
ment has two distinct organisations to serve these different 
purposes. There is the consulate, whose functions are 
chiefly to protect individual interests. And there are the 
embassies to foreign' nations, whose task it is to regulate 
affairs of state. For matters of special importance con- 
gresses and conferences of plenipotentiaries supplement the 

6 7i-2] The Law of Nations 289 

work of the embassy ; and problems relating both to 
individuals and to the State are settled on a more per- 
manent basis by international agreements and conventions. 
These latter correspond, allowing for the different conditions 
of their origin, to the codified body of laws that governs 
the affairs of the individual state. Finally, partly out of 
habitual practice in matters of detail, and partly out of prin- 
ciples that have been regularly agreed upon, there develops, 
as the last stage attainable by the united legal consciousness 
of nations, the law of international custom. 1 

Thus the legal commonwealth of nations does not lack its 
administrative organisation, and even has a kind of constitu- 
tion. The autonomy of its various parts, however, gives 
greater freedom to both these organisations. International 
affairs are decided on the merits of each individual case, and 
the very organs for their regulation are constituted with 
reference to the needs of each case as it arises. Yet as these 
needs regularly recur, and certain views on the subject of 
international law come to gain wider and wider acceptance, 
a certain constant practice grows up both in legislation and 
administration, which may form a substitute for the con- 
straint of codified laws. The freedom that attends the 
formation of international law may be a weakness from the 
juristic point of view, but it is an advantage from that of 
ethics. For a free moral action has always, for states as for 
individuals, greater moral worth. In any case, it is a 
characteristic too deeply involved in the very nature of the 
State's life ever to be thought or wished other than it is. 
The more the moral consciousness of the various nations 
develops, the more impossible becomes the dream of a 
"world-government." Free competition among material 
and intellectual interests is more and more coming to be the 
vital condition for the existence of the. legal commonwealth 
1 Cf. on this point above, Part III., chap, iv., p. 191. 

290 Humanity [672-3 

of nations itself. Hence the idea of " a codification of inter- 
national law " is one that can hardly be carried out, except 
as a purely scientific task, whose influence on practice is 
simply that exerted by all science as it clears up men's ideas 
on a given subject. 

On the whole, however, it is probable that science exercises 
distinctly less influence on the general and permanent struc- 
ture of .international law than on the legislation of the 
individual state. This is partly because the effects of indi- 
vidual influence are more rarely met with, the wider the 
sphere of life concerned ; and partly because international 
law lacks and must of necessity lack those legislative organs 
that are the substrate of individual influences. Possibly 
the development of international law may be delayed by 
this fact. But it is none the less certain that a form of 
government conditioned by practical needs will maintain the 
results of its endeavours with greater energy, and will not 
readily abandon them. 

There is no more striking expression of that change of 
view which has led to the idea of an universal commonwealth 
of law embracing all humanity than the significance which 
the conceptions of war and peace have assumed in modern 
legal theory. War formerly meant a state of brutal op- 
pression which one nation might impose on another at its 
own arbitrary will, without giving any account to itself 
or to others of the motives for its action. Even Hugo 
Grotius, though he is the first to speak of ' the law of war,' 
.scarcely ventures to oppose this view. Peace in those days 
was simply the absence of war. One nation was at peace 
with another when the two were not actually at war. It is 
significant that treaties of peace are the oldest form of inter- 
national agreement. They are also the most imperfect, 
because they usually express the will of the victor only. 
Nevertheless, they sometimes contained agreements for the 

673-4] The Law of Nations 291 

regulation of intercourse between the parties, thus rendering 
the recurrence of war less easy. Hence they had in germ 
the idea of real international agreements, concluded with the 
free consent of both parties, and establishing certain positive 
regulations for the state of peace, thereby indicating peace 
as the normal condition of nations, war as a temporary 
interruption of peace. Thus a total reversal of opinion has 
gradually come about. While the right to wage war was 
formerly the natural right of every state, which it merely 
suspended when it kept the peace, the latter has now become 
a positive legal status, protected by guarantees originating 
partly by contract and partly by usage. War, on the other 
hand, arises from a conflict of interests where the existing 
guarantees are no longer adequate and new ones cannot be 
found by mutual agreement. If a solution cannot be reached 
through the mediation of other powers, war ensues as a 
process that either decides a contested point of international 
law or leads to the formation of a new code to take the place 
of an old one that has ceased to be of use to the common- 
wealth of nations. In the former case the analogue of war 
within the limits of the state is the civil process by which 
legal contests between individuals are decided. In the latter 
case it corresponds to the constitutional struggle that pre- 
cedes any change in the organisation of the state, a struggle 
that frequently has to be decided by force even in the indi- 
vidual state, where civil war arises. 

These changes of view are especially apparent in the ideas 
associated with the sea and its use for navigation and 
commerce. In former times the sea was the region of 
universal lawlessness. Because it belonged to no one state 
it was regarded as an arena where everyone must be ready 
to defend his life and property against everyone else. The 
pirate is the typical figure of this age. Unlike that of 
robbers on the land, his profession was regarded as so far 

292 Humanity [674-5 

from dishonourable that whole nations were not ashamed 
to conclude alliances with pirates or to practise piracy them- 
selves. The idea of the legal commonwealth of humanity- 
has transformed the sea into the great territory of the inter- 
national commonwealth. Precisely because it is not the 
property of any one state, it is taken under the protection 
of all seafaring nations, which are jointly responsible for its 
security. Hence, in general, the rules that govern marine 
warfare are apt to be stricter and more inviolable than is the 
case with the more localised warfare of the land. 

The preceding century looked upon war wholly from the 
point of view of the older conception that made it an act of 
pure violence, resting on the absolute irresponsibility of the 
autonomous state. It was against this idea of war that the 
notion of "everlasting peace," which plays a leading r61e in 
the philosophy of the time, was directed. Hence we should 
be regarding these philosophical endeavours after peace in a 
false light if we were to ridicule them as the offspring of 
an unsound cosmopolitanism, or as wholly Utopian dreams. 
Many of the conditions requisite for an everlasting peace 
that were first postulated by Kant in his " Preliminary and 
Definitive Articles,'' are now recognised by the public senti- 
ment of law, while others are looked upon as ends that are at 
least worth striving to attain. With the firmer establishment 
of an international commonwealth of law, arbitrary breach 
of peace for dynastic or other egoistic interests is becoming 
less and less possible nowadays ; for such a commonwealth 
strengthens the forces that make for peaceful action and 
against purely aggressive war, and increases the moral weight 
of public opinion. It may be, of course, that wars which 
arise out of irreconcilably opposed conceptions of law, or an 
insoluble conflict between political interests, whose settlement 
can be reached only by the adoption of new legal principles, 
will never be wholly abolished. But the same auxiliary in- 

6 75] The Law of Nations 293 

fluences that hinder aggressive war render possible a peaceful 
settlement of such differences. Thus the forces of the 
commonwealth of nations are directed towards producing a 
balance of power, which has an increasing tendency to 
prevent war and to strengthen the influences that enable 
nations to reach an amicable arrangement of their disputes. 
Hence the postulate that the relation between states is con- 
stantly approximating one of permanent peace is warranted 
not only by ethics, but by history, if we regard the future as 
a development out of the present rather than a repetition of 
the past. Ethically, war is always an expedient to be used 
only in times of extremest need, and the goal of every effort 
towards moral improvement must be the ultimate avoidance 
of such expedients. The course of historical development 
shows, however, that neither an international tribunal en- 
dowed with supreme power, nor a world-state such as Kant 
had in mind, is an attainable end ; but that the efficacy of 
such voluntary arrangements as are in use to-day, for ex- 
ample, submission to the decision of an arbiter chosen by 
free consent, or peaceful alliances and agreements, will in- 
crease. And the most important factor that ensures the 
effectiveness of such institutions of international law is the 
increasing sentiment of moral responsibility for the serious 
consequences of a breach of peace. 

War thus having become a method of solving irreconcilable 
conflicts in the social life of nations that is adopted only as a 
last resort, the means and conditions of its conduct have 
altered their character. The rules of warfare have become 
more humane, but this is merely an external circumstance. 
A more important one is the fact that, at least in the majority 
of civilised nations, military service is a duty so universally 
required that war is made a real contest of nations, where 
each throws into the balance its whole power, intelligence, 
and especially its political vitality, as expressed in its capacity 

294 Humanity [675-6 

for self-defence. Thus warfare is in a fair way to become 
a critical process in history, where the so-called fortunes of 
war count for less and less, and moral preparation is almost 
everything. The rule that might makes right will always 
hold in war, but it is destined to be amended by another, 
namely, that right makes might. Perhaps it would be dream- 
ing of another Utopia to hope that such a goal can ever be 
fully attained. The struggle between right and wrong will 
not cease while moral development lasts, for it belongs to the 
very essence of such development. And it is no less an 
inevitable characteristic of this struggle that wrong must 
occasionally win. Here, as in the legal order of the individual 
state, the principle holds good that, if we are to get an idea 
of the nature of the moral progress, we must look at the 
changes in men's conception of law, — not at particular actions, 
which may or may not be in harmony with the law, and 
whose conflict with one another will never wholly vanish. Yet 
in the international commonwealth it is easier for the concep- 
tion of law that is universally accepted in theory to become 
the maxim actually followed in conduct, because of the 
comprehensive character of that social will which is repre- 
sented by the power of the individual state in such a 
commonwealth. For here the spirit of wrongdoing is not 
a power lurking in secret places, ensnaring in its toils the 
individual will with all the fluctuating motives which deter- 
mine that will. It is an act of public violence, and hence 
regulations tending to prevent its occurrence may be made 
before the fact. These regulations will not always prove as 
effective as might be desired, because the commonwealth of 
nations lacks an organisation to combine the totality of its 
parts into a firm system. In a measure, however, a substitute 
for such organisation is furnished by the alliance of civilised 
states. It is not a social unit like the individual state, but 
for many purposes it produces an equivalent social order. 

676-7] The Association of Civilised States 295 


As the division of society into classes originated largely 
from the natural conditions of social life, so the social union 
of states, international society, is a product of the play of 
like and unlike interests, where the relative power of the 
various states has a decisive influence. 

There is only one permanent difference between a society 
made up of individuals and the general international society 
of states. It lies in the fact that the latter is always directed 
by the free self-regulating power which is the universal 
condition of the origin of social life ; and that in consequence 
there is a total absence of such influences as proceed from 
a superior social will. For humanity as a whole, a society 
will always be the highest form of union possible, at least 
within any future that we can now anticipate. 

This higher form of human society, where the relations 
between states is like that between the citizens of a single 
state in the primary form, is wholly a product of modern 
civilisation. True, there have always been differences of 
power and consequence among nations, such as now form the 
basis of the international commonwealth. But they had no 
permanent recognition. Supremacy was maintained merely 
by the direct exercise of superior force in war, or by the 
consequences thus brought about. Such a condition of 
affairs is represented by the alliances and feudal relationships 
of former times, which were as far removed from an actual 
international commonwealth as the relation between freemen 
and slaves or serfs is from a social organisation. Not until 
the rise of the modern commonwealth of states do we find 
the beginning of a condition where all states, the least as 
well as the greatest, are allowed the same freedom and 
equality that the State gives to its individual citizens ; while 
at the same time a due regard is had to the differences in 

296 Humanity [677-8 

political power and other circumstances that exist among the 
members of the commonwealth. We smile nowadays at 
the painful and laborious care with which the relative rank 
of princes and their adherents was ordered by the seventeenth- 
century codes of etiquette, and at the curious interest which 
even a man like Leibniz took in contests over trifling ques- 
tions of external form. But we must not forget that such dull 
discussions of court ceremonial marked the beginning of this 
new and higher social order, the society of states, which is 
slowly working out its destiny and extending itself into an 
international society embracing all humanity. 

The circumstance to which such an international common- 
wealth, based on internal equality of rights, chiefly owes its 
origin and maintenance is the existence of a number of states 
approximately equal in power, each one of which strives 
jealously to guard against any encroachments that the others 
might seek to make upon it. Thus, instead of a higher 
system of law, we have a strife between various interests, 
which in the first place tends to keep opposing forces within 
bounds by violent means, and later gradually produces a 
sentiment of law adapted to become the strongest bulwark 
of order in the intercourse of nations as in that of individuals. 
Hence the great Powers, whose especial duty it is to carry 
on war between nations when a peaceful settlement of con- 
flicting claims becomes impossible, are at the same time the 
proper guardians of the peaceful interests of nations. Not 
only must they watch over the security of their own rights : 
they must guard those of the lesser states that cannot protect 
themselves. This means a certain preponderant tendency 
towards the eventual necessity of deciding questions by 
force ; but it is evident that such a tendency is the inevitable 
result of the fact that along with the influence of the senti- 
ment of law a conflict of interests persists. The capacity 
of a state to form alliances is thus the final test of its 

678-9] The Association of Civilised States 297 

capacity to exist. And the limits to the growth of a nation's 
power, thus defined, are significant also of the limits within 
which other factors, such as the common feeling of nationality, 
long political and intellectual association, may form the basis 
of political unity. 

It is a well-known fact that the modern political common- 
wealth of nations, which in this latest form, that of a social 
balance of power, is largely the product of this century and 
of a reaction against the last great attempt to found a world- 
empire, has not always kept within the above-mentioned 
limits. With the avowed purpose of maintaining European 
order, many of the great Powers have felt called upon to 
interfere even in matters affecting the internal constitution 
of other states. The latest step towards securing complete 
equality of rights here is the express rejection, by all the 
great Powers, of the fundamental principles involved in such 
a policy of intervention. This leaves the social system of 
nations free to follow exclusively its proper objects, the 
protection and furtherance of the common interests of 

It is impossible as yet to trace to their ultimate con- 
sequences the moral advantages of this highest form of 
civilised community, which is also, of course, the freest form 
yet instituted by humanity. An immediate result, though 
rather a negative than a positive one, is the greatly increased 
possibility of finding an amicable settlement where interests 
conflict. But there is another consequence of greater moment 
for the permanent common life of humanity. This is the 
powerful impulse given in all directions towards realising 
the positive ends of civilisation in material and intellectual 
intercourse. Among all the special consequences of the 
establishment of an international commonwealth, which need 
not be enumerated, there is one of the highest value. Such 
a concentration of the forces of civilised nations brings about 

298 Humanity [679-80 

a general diffusion of the consciousness of humanity's 
common ends and goods, a consciousness that in earlier 
periods of the world's history was at most the possession 
of a few exceptional minds. Thus, from being a merely 
potential unity, humanity begins to become an actual 
unity, upon which larger moral tasks devolve as its means 
grow larger. 


The idea of humanity is not primitive, but a product of 
gradual development, and still in process of growth. The 
intellectual life took its rise in isolated and disconnected 
beginnings. The intellectual possessions created by one 
nation passed, through no volition of its own, into the 
possession of others. Thus, preserved from destruction by 
being imparted, such possessions became the inheritance 
of new peoples called to civilisation. So the course of 
history became coherent, not because the human race was 
originally animated by a common intellectual life, but 
because from scattered fragments of the intellectual life a 
whole was gradually built up. For this reason the con- 
tinuity of the intellectual life as displayed in history does 
not directly follow the course of events itself, but is evident 
only in retrospect. 

Yet historical life labours without wearying to bring 
about a transformation of this original relationship. In 
the first place there is a more clearly conscious estimate 
of the intellectual heritage of the past as regards its value 
and the conditions under which it is obtained. Thus 
Rome even in its day delighted in the treasures of Greek 
learning and art; and during the period of the revival of 
ancient civilisation the traces of antique culture were 
everywhere followed with loving care. Yet even here the 

68o-i] The Intellectual Life of Humanity 299 

eye that begins to see the continuity of the intellectual 
life is directed towards the past alone. Only in a few 
isolated minds there dawns the thought that now and in 
the future humanity is called to a common life. The idea 
of a commonwealth of humanity owes its increasing practical 
recognition in the establishment of universally recognised 
principles of law and the union of civilised states, not to 
art or to science, but to political life, whose problems are 
pre-eminently those of the present. The handmaid of 
politics in this task is history, which seeks to obtain from 
the life of the past conclusions about the future, and thus 
to enable the art of politics, drawing from the teachings 
of the past, to make sure of its results by absorbing those 
historical ideas to whose fulfilment it is called. 

It is true that the metaphor, recurring in nearly all the 
theories of the philosophy of history, which compares the 
periods of history with the stages of development in the indi- 
vidual life, is in many respects inept. The unity of personal 
volition and action, in particular, is necessarily wanting in 
the life of history. Hence the latter is rich in simultaneous 
processes of development, where many things are produced 
at one and the same time which in individual life are 
necessarily successive. In one point, however, the illustration 
may serve to make clear the general course that the life 
of humanity as a whole has followed in history. At first 
the impressions out of which the individual consciousness 
builds up its ideas flow in upon it at random and unsought. 
Though its ideas enter into an internally coherent system, 
this is rather a passive process than the result of active 
volition. As the will matures, the relation is altered. True, 
outward impressions still exert their influence ; but a new 
factor appears, at first subordinate, then increasingly pre- 
dominant. It is the factor of preconsidered action, for 

300 Humanity [68 1 

which the outer impression is no longer the determining 
influence, but merely the material on which it must operate 
and the condition under which it must take place. Thus 
the life of the mind, originally the plaything of external 
circumstance, becomes more and more a self-formed product 
of inner motives. The child is educated, the man educates 
himself, — unless the immaturity of his character is such 
that he remains a child all his life. So is it with the spirit 
of history. Its first task is to unite disconnected ideas into 
a single whole by allowing the fortune of events to transfer 
to one people the fruit of another nation's labours, thereby 
enabling the former to gain a fuller culture through the 
means thus transmitted. It lets even that division of 
function, which is best adapted to serve the intellectual 
ends of humanity, develop of itself through the force of 
outward events and original national characteristics. Finally, 
however, here as in the individual mind, what originated 
without choice is transformed into something that is con- 
sciously willed. History itself is no longer merely that 
which happens ; it is made by men, that is, by nations, and 
by those individuals whose function is to shape the civilisa- 
tion and the destiny of nations. 

It is true that the life of humanity as a whole, thus 
originating by a gradual process and continually developing, 
is grounded, like the individual life, on a material basis. 
But just because its nature is more comprehensive, it is 
more of an intellectual product than the life of the individual. 
The bond of material interests embraces only what is directly 
contiguous in space and time. Such interests are, indeed, 
the impelling forces which must at least co-operate in the 
fulfilment even of intellectual ends. Yet with increasing 
distance in time their traces tend to disappear, and the 
intellectual results alone remain. The intellectual treasures 

68 1 -2] The Intellectual Life of Humanity 301 

of antiquity are all that is left to us of its civilisation. Even 
as regards the past of our own nation, the material condition 
of former times affects the present indirectly only, through 
the medium of the intellectual culture that it allowed or 
forbade. Thus the wider the sphere of the life of humanity, 
the more purely intellectual that life becomes. 

The intellectual nature of the commonwealth of humanity 
is apparent in the fact that its conscious expression, the 
idea of humanity, was originally not the product of com- 
mercial and economic interests, but the outgrowth of 
intellectual forces. As in the separate life of nations, so 
in their common life, religion is the primary source of the 
social consciousness. Ancient civilisation having once 
actually created a common stock of intellectual possessions, 
it was Christianity that first postulated the existence of an 
intellectual commonwealth, in the form of a commonwealth 
of faith. As a result of its influence science and art became 
common possessions, shared by peoples and ages according 
to the functions devolving upon them by reason of their 
natural characteristics and historical conditions. Thus the 
intellectual commonwealth is really earlier than the material. 
And the strongest moral support for the latter is to be 
found in the sentiment of equality of rights produced by 
oneness of intellectual interests. For centuries, however, 
peaceful intercourse was possible only between Christian 
nations, and common warfare against the infidels was one 
of the earliest occasions for the formation of international 
alliances, which were for the most part, of course, temporary 
in character. Thus that political union of civilised states 
for the purpose of common peaceful endeavour, in which 
the problems of material existence occupy the foreground 
of interest, is the final and not the first stage of develop- 

302 Humanity [682-3 

But it is a stage whose importance for the later aspects of 
the moral life is all the greater. As more lasting safeguards 
against hostilities allow of an unbroken development of in- 
tellectual forces, commerce begins to exert an influence upon 
nations like that experienced by the individual through social 
life. A peaceful competition of material and intellectual 
interests gradually gives rise to a division of labour in the 
material realm which is of service to the needs of the whole, 
while in the intellectual realm it brings about mutual aid 
between forces that are performing the same function, and 
even, to a certain extent, an interchange and balancing of 
opinions that is as good for the development of human 
nature in nations as in individuals. 

It would, of course, be a mistake to expect or even to 
hope that this increasing unity of intellectual life should 
cause national differences of endowment and character to 
disappear. Culture enriches ; it never impoverishes. That 
which tends towards an indefinite increase in the manifold 
development of character within the individual nation must 
surely bring about a fuller development of the characters of 
nations along their own peculiar lines, by producing a livelier 
exchange of ideas. The Middle Ages, under the powerful 
protection of the Church, made a remarkable attempt to 
extend into all other departments that unity of intellectual 
life whose first manifestation was in the unity of religious 
convictions. Art and science were associated with forms in 
which national distinctions were supposed to disappear. But 
the art of each nation soon followed its own peculiar tendency, 
despite the fact that the religious elements in the material 
with which it dealt were everywhere the same ; and science 
gradually laid aside the common speech of the learned. For 
an age whose task it was to call a world-literature into life 
this common speech had an indispensable mission to fulfil, 

68 3-4] The Intellectual Life of Humanity 303 

even apart from the fact that the various national tongues 
were then too little developed to be of service. Yet science 
as well as art has gained infinitely by the development of 
national forms of thought, while its unity, once established, 
has never been lost. The present age has a world-literature 
quite as truly as had the age when all the world wrote Latin ; 
nay, in a fuller sense, so far as rapidity and scope in the 
interchange of ideas are concerned. Yet it is a world- 
literature written in all the different languages of civilisation, 
and thus all the varieties in national ways of looking at 
things become the common possession of humanity. 

With the products of science, national in their origin, yet 
appropriated by all nations, there vie the creations of art. 
These, while they express the particular emotional tendencies 
of some one people, are transmitted to other nations, which 
appropriate them, and thereby develop further their own 
peculiar national characteristics. Finally, even the increase 
of personal intercourse between men of different races, and 
the broadening of individual views through knowledge of 
foreign lands and peoples, play a certain rdle in the in- 
creasingly lively exchange of intellectual values. While their 
effect is of rather an external character, it is not in- 
essential to the life and growth of this system of reciprocal 
intellectual influences. As humanity thus learns to unite 
temporally with its own life the intellectual acquisitions of 
the past, and to combine spatially the life of all contem- 
poraries into a single great collective life ; as it thus realises 
the idea of its unity, it imposes higher moral tasks upon 
those less comprehensive wills which labour in the service 
of the whole. The man is more responsible for his acts than 
the child, because more is required of those whose capacity 
is greater. And so out of a wider knowledge of the tasks 
of humanity greater moral requirements arise. The idea of 

304 Humanity [684 

Humanity, at first instinctively practised, rather than clearly 
conceived, in the various forms of personal benevolence, 
creates its own proper object through the consciousness of 
a common human life, directed throughout history towards 
the solution of moral problems. It thus finds an inex- 
haustible content, out of which there develops an inter- 
national sense of obligation ; and this in turn is at once the 
guide and the goal of all the functions of the individual 
moral life. 


Altruism, primitive character of, 27, 

28, 79, 80 ; why preferable to egoism, 

Apperception, nature of, 14 
Aristotle, 76 
Art, as element in culture, 212, 213 ; 

in intellectual life of humanity, 303, 

Associations, classification and moral 

value of, 245-55 
Atomism, ethical, in Spinoza, Leibniz, 

Descartes, and Herbart, 29-31 
Augustine, 54 

Bacon, 24 
Bentham, 165, 171 
Bierling, 170, 171 twte 
Binding, 186 note 

Cartesianism, 29 

Causality, psychical and mechanical, 39, 
41, 44. 45 5 °f character, 55-9 

Character, causality of, 55-9 

Christian ethics, method, 75 ; concep- 
tion of individual, 82, 83 ; application 
of principle of equality, 241 

Christianity, as basis of religious educa- 
tion, 276-8 ; as origin of intellectual 
commonwealth of humanity, 301 

Church, relation to State, 254 ; in 
education, 274-9 > m Middle Ages, 

Citizenship, moral influence of, 206-10; 
of women, 229, 230; as basis of 
associations, 252-4 

Commerce, 286-8 

Community, moral significance of the, 

Conscience, theories of, 59-64 ; im- 
peratives of, 64-74 

Consciousness, nature of, 4, 5 

Constraint, motives of, 67, 68, 92 ; as 
essence of law, 169-71 

Culture, moral significance of, 211-24 ; 
of women, 230-2 ; influence on 
social classes, 235 ; relation to the 
State, 272-81 

Descartes, 31 

Desire, relation to feeling and volition, 

Determinism, error of ordinary, 41, 

42; relation to indeterminism, 41, 

Duties, concepts of, relation to virtue 

and norms, 143-9; individual, 152, 

153; social, 154-6; humanitarian, 


Economic conditions, relation to State, 

260 ; international, 286-8 
Empiricism, method of, 76 
Ends, immoral, two sources, 91-3 
Ends, moral, forms of, 75-7 ; indi- 
vidual, 77, 78; social, 79-84; 
humanitarian, 84-91 ; heterogony 
of, 66, 84, 102 ; hierarchy of, 88, 


Enlightenment, individualism of, 29, 
78, 246, 283 


Index of Names and Subjects 

Equality, possibility of social, 224, 

236 ff. 
Equity, relation to justice, 181, 182 

Family, rights and duties, 1 74 ; moral 
significance of, 225-33 

Feeling, relation to desire and volition, 
4 ; to will, 6-8 ; aesthetic and intel- 
lectual, 8 ; in motives, 94 

Feuerbach, 35 note 

Fichte, 147 

Franchise, right of, 172, 175 

Gierke, O., 285 note 
Grotius, 290 

Hegel, 34, 35, 166 
Helvetius, 25 
Herbart, 31, 166 

HOBBES, 24, 25, 166 

Humanity, as a moral end, 84-9 ; as 
an economic unity, 286-8 ; as a legal 
commonwealth, 288-98 ; as an intel- 
lectual commonwealth, 298-304 

Hume, 26 

Ideal, the moral, as motive, 69-72 ; as 
motive of reason, 104-8 

Immorality, nature of, 108-17; indi- 
vidual forms, 1 12-16 

Imperative, categorical, 62, 63 

Impulsive action, 14, 16 ; relation to 
voluntary action, 16-18 

Impulses, self - regarding, 99, 100; 
social-regarding, 100-4 

Indeterminism, relation to determinism, 
41, 42 ; criticism of, 53—5 

Individual, and society, 32, 37, 55-9 ; 
development compared with that of 
humanity, 299, 300 

Individualism, of the Enlightenment, 
24-6 ; criticism of, 27-9 ; in Hegelian 
school, 35 ; theory of social ends, 
32-4 ; theory of immorality, 108-9 > 
theory of State, 283, 284 

Introspection, influence of external 

perception on, 3, 4 
Intuitionism, on nature of imperatives, 

65, 66 

Jellinek, 169 
Jhering, 169 
Justice, 179-82 

Kant, 6, 26, 42, 54, 60, 62, 119, 145, 

147, 292 
Krause, 121, 166 

Laplace, 41, 49 

Lassalle, Ferd., 35 note 

Law, relation to morality, 134-6 ; 
natural law, theory of, 160, 161 ; 
individualism in, 163-6 ; historical 
theory of, 166, 167 ; protective 
theory of, 167-9 J theory of con- 
straint, 169-71 ; subjective, 172-5 ; 
objective, 175, 176 ; definition of 
176-9 ; codified, 182-6 ; relation to 
State, 261-8 ; international, 191, 

Leibniz, 14, 30, 31, 296 

Luther, 54 

Materialism, 50 

Matter, nature of concept, 45, 46 

Motive, relation to will, 9, 10 ; actual, 
potential, final, leading, and inci- 
dental, 11, 27; relation to effect of 
act, 12 ; to end, 87 ; to humanitarian 
end, 88, 89 

Motives, immoral, 108-29 ! complexity 
of, 116, 117 

Motives, imperative, origin, 64-6 ; 
of constraint, 67, 68 ; of freedom, 
68-72, 92 ; religious form of, 72-4 

Motives, moral, forms of, 94, 95 ; of 
perception, 95-8 ; of the under- 
standing, 99-104 ; of reason, 104-8 

Index of Names and Subjects 


Nominalism, 53, 54 

Norms, legal, relation to moral norms, 
151; origin and nature, 160-92; 
fundamental and auxiliary, 182-92 

Norms, moral, fundamental and deri- 
vative, 130-2; positive and negative, 
132-6; conflict of, 137-42; relation 
to duty and virtue, 143-9 ; classifica- 
tion of, 150-2 ; individual, 152-4 ; 
social, 154-6 ; humanitarian, 156-60 

Occupation, 201-6 ; influence on civic 
position, 208-10; on culture, 211; 
of members of a family, 226-8 ; of 
women, 226-9 > influence on social 
classes, 234, 235 ; as basis of associa- 
tions, 250-2 

Perception, motives of, 95-8 

Personality, in individual and State, 
284, 285 

Physiology, relation to psychology, 51 

Plato, 24, 168, 273 

Property, extremes of, 114, 115. !99> 
205, 242-5 ; right of private, 173 ; 
moral significance of, 197-201 ; in- 
fluence on civic position, 207 ; on 
culture, 21 1 ; relations in family life, 
225, 226 ; influence on social classes, 
234, 235 ; associations, 248-50 ; rela- 
tion to State, 258-60 

Punishment, theories of, 118-23; 
nature of, 123-9 ; right of, 171, 172 

Reason, motives of, 104, 108 

Reflex acts, voluntary origin of, 13, 17 

Religion, conception of social will, 37 ; 
of moral imperatives, 72-4 ; of moral 
ideal, 36, 37, 107 ; as element of 
culture, 212 ; permanence of, 219- 

Representative government, signifi- 
cance of, 266 

Rights, relation to duties, 150, 151 ; 
nature of, I7 Z -S 

Rousseau, 24, 25, 35 note 

Schelling, 168 

Science, as element in culture, 213-17 ; 
in intellectual life of humanity, 302, 


Self- feeling, as moral motive, 95, 96 

Self-preservation, as moral end, 77> 7^ 

Self-satisfaction, as moral end, 77> 7& 

Separation of powers, doctrine of, 267 

Socrates, 68, 76, 84 

Social classes, 234 

Society, relation to State, 269-72 ; 
international, 295-8 

Soul, nature of, 32 

Sovereign, 267, 268 

Spinoza, 25, 30, 120 

Stahl, 167-9 

State, individualistic theories of, 25 ; 
relation to law, 172 ff. ; regulation 
of property, 242 ; relation to Church' 
and schools, 254, 272-81 ; to com- 
munity, 255-7 ; as financial and 
economic body, 258-60 ; as legal 
body, 261-8; relation to society, 
269-72 ; as a personality, 281-5 

Stein, L. von 162 note 

Stirner, Max, 35 note 

Sympathy, not identical with feelings 
of its object, 28 ; nature of, 96-8 ; 
relation to social-regarding impulses, 

Trendelenburg, 170 note 

Understanding, motives of the, 99-104 
Universalism, theory of immorality, 

Utilitarianism, 79 

Virtue, concepts of, relation to duties 
and norms, 143-9; individual, 152, 
153; social, 154-6; humanitarian, 

Volition, relation to feeling and desire, 
4 ; causality of, 52, 53 


Index of Names and Subjects 

Wagner, A., 175 

War, mediaeval and modern views of, 

Will, freedom of, 37-59 

Will, relation to feeling and desire, 4, 
6, 8 ; nature of, 5-8 ; relation to 
consciousness, 7 ; motives and causes 
of, 9-12 ; doctrine of a substantial, 
9 ; development of, 12-14 ; relation 
to personality, 20, 21 ; to external 
nature, 22 ; to other wills, 22, 23 ; 
in formation of character, 58 

Will, social, 20 ; relation to indi- 
vidual, 32-7, 58, 59; to im- 
morality, 108-10; to punishment, 
118, 123-5 

Wolff, 60 

Woman, position and education of, 

Zitelmann, 186 note